While growing up, having an older brother meant that I had someone who was exposed to life’s cruel ways before I was. My guess is that life hurt him so much that he felt the need to prepare me. Therefore, he was rather hard on me, I suppose trying to toughen me up for the future. At the time, I was rather young and naïve about things to come. Of course, the older I got, the more I came to understand how life got harder. In school, there was a tendency for other kids to be rather cruel and unkind to each other. If you fit in one place, then you stood out in another.
When I was young, I used to run barefoot through our yard without a care in the world. I had no worries of tetanus shots in the event of stepping on a rusty nail, nor concern for the dirty bottoms of my feet. One day while dashing through the yard, I came upon a wasp nest. For whatever reason I must have upset one of them and it stung me on the wrist. My arm started swelling and soon after I started to cry. I ran back home, crying all the way. When I bumped into my brother, he saw that I was crying. He hit me and told me to stop crying. Yeah, you should have seen my face. I am sure it was a look of total shock, wondering why if someone was crying because of physical pain, how hitting them would only make it worse. Our friend stepped in and told him to back off because he knew I got stung by a wasp. After the sound of a grunt, he walked away and no longer bothered me about it. My friend’s grandmother cut an onion and put a slice on top of the wound. I guess it was meant to be some natural remedy thing to help remove the stinger. I thought it strange but deemed it a whole lot better than the method my brother used.
Back then there were only like forty channels on cable television. There were inside games, but we were always active and played outside most of the time. For some reason, we liked playing rough games. However, they were usually fun even though we all got hurt. King of the hill, dodgeball, and one game which I won’t even put its name in print (where you smear whoever has the ball). I have no idea how these names were chosen but nonetheless they were fun games. If we got bored – we’d make up our own games. By the time we got to middle school, we started playing games like flag football, soccer, and basketball. However, we still ended up getting hurt all the time.
As boys, we got rough with each other on occasion. Competition, after all, was often fierce to make it worthwhile. At times, fights broke out between one or two of us. There were simple arguments and cases where we were verbally aggressive with the other person. If that didn’t settle it, it broke out into physical fights. Sometimes, days would go by afterwards, where no one spoke because they were angry with the other person. But eventually, we’d all get over ourselves and dismiss our anger toward one another. Apologies were made and like magic, we were all friends again. It may not have been the best way to deal with things, but after every conflict, there was eventually resolution and forgiveness.