I’m pretty sure that my brothers, if not immortal, at least posses some sort of super power that makes them immune to serious injury and death. I came to this conclusion after looking back over our childhood and marveling at all the things we did to each other that, reasonably, should have resulted in hospitalization at the very least. But the worst thing that ever happened was stitches. Lots and lots of stitches.
One of the worst whoopins (that’s Texas vernacular for ‘spanking,’ which is something most parents did to their kids when I was growing up) I ever received was the result of me putting my brother’s head through the windshield of our mom’s minivan. Before you conclude that I was a monstrous demon-child, it’s not as bad as it sounds. I had two brothers, one three years younger than I and the other six years younger. For the purpose of this post, we’ll call the older one A-1 and the younger A-2 (as both of their names start with A). Mom often made the mistake of leaving A-1 and me in the car while she ran inside with A-2 to grab milk or whatever (preferring the inevitable hysterics we would cause to be kept in the parking lot and knowing that A-2 was unlikely to survive whatever we might do to him). A-1 was in the front seat– this was before airbags, when no kid over age three rode in a carseat– and was sitting on his knees, leaning forward over the dashboard. Being the excellent big sister that I was, I reared back and, using all the force my tiny body could muster, punched A-1 straight in the ass. I was small, but he was smaller, so his whole body flew forward. Straight into the windshield. I watched in horror, and time seemed to slow painfully, as A-1’s head made contact with the safety glass. A huge spiderweb of cracks appeared in the glass, radiating from the point of contact across the entire passenger side half of the windshield. My short life flashed before my eyes, and I will never ever ever as long as I live forget the look on my mother’s face when she walked up to the minivan. I have, however, blocked out the actual corporal punishment, which is probably very fortunate. In fact, I received so very many whoopins that they all just run together like one, big mega-whoopin. A-1, by the way, came out of the incident completely unscathed and found great amusement in my resulting consequences.
Then there was the time I busted A-2’s head open, and he had to get what turned out to be one of many sets of stitches. I used to trip my brothers when we were kids because I was nine, and it was funny. One day I got tired of wearing glasses, which I didn’t really need anyway (plus I hated the frames because my mom made me get red ones, and I wanted pink), so I decided A-2 would break them for me. I carefully placed them on my bedroom floor, a little out of the way so A-2 wouldn’t see them, and called my youngest brother into my room. I told him I wanted to time him and see how many times he could run in a circle around the room in a minute. So he took off and, of course, stepped on my glasses. I told him it was no big deal and to keep running, which he did– by then I had a better idea. In addition to breaking my glasses for me– and I had A-2 do this because he was too young to get in trouble, so I wasn’t an ass all the time– I could derive some entertainment by tripping him. Usually, when I tripped my brothers, the worst that would happen is that it would piss them off, but they would start laughing when they saw me laughing. I never intended for A-2 to get hurt, but I was also incapable of forethought at that age. So A-2 kept running, and I stuck my foot out, and down he went. Face first into the rocking chair. He didn’t cry, just turned and looked at me very surprised. Then I saw the line of blood forming on his forehead. When the thin line turned into a full-on faucet, I got concerned and ran to get my mom. I tried telling her that A-2 had tripped on his own, but he was old enough to speak for himself, so the jig was up almost immediately. My punishment was that I had to ride in the back seat, holding A-2’s head in my lap as I pressed a bloody rag to his forehead, while our mom drove to the emergency clinic. Plus a whoopin’.
Before you decide that I am just a very terrible human being, bent on fratricide, I wasn’t the only one causing peril to life and limb. There was also the time that A-1 sliced A-2’s chin open with a machete. They were eight and five at the time, and before you ask why an eight-year old was playing with a machete, let me explain– because Texas. If you grew up in Texas before 1995, you most likely knew how to wield a machete, a hunting knife, and a .22 well before puberty. So my brothers were traipsing through the woods at our grandparents’ ranch, and A-1– being the protective older brother– was clomping through the brush in front of A-2, ineffectually knocking vines and plants out of their path. A-2, being the most non-observant child I ever met in my life, was staring up at birds and got a little too close to A-1’s wildly-swinging machete arm. So the machete ended up embedded about half an inch into his chin, resulting in yet more stitches and a funny-looking chin bandage that I made fun off every day for two weeks. A-2 did not get a whoopin’ because our dad said it was an “accident.” Pfft. Technicality.
But A-1 definitely was not an angel, as much as he tried to put out that vibe. I will never forget the day he knocked down A-2 in the backyard, sat on his chest, and stuffed dog poo in his mouth. And when our dad got home and was told what had happened, he made A-1 go pick up a piece of dog poo and put it in his own mouth. And then my mom yelled at both A-1 and my dad because she said everyone was going to get worms. I didn’t know what that meant, but it didn’t sound awesome.
There was also the time when A-1 and I were going through a fistfight phase, and our mom had to break up half a dozen fights a day. And she would make us hug afterward, which we hated. On one particularly bad day she took us to Walmart, and by the time she pulled into the parking lot, we were whacking the crap out of each other in the back seat. Our poor mom, out of patience at this point, left us to have it out in the car while she took A-2 into Walmart with her. She did her shopping and came back out to find both A-1 and me in tears. We didn’t touch each other for a week.
I have a thousand other stories like this. I can’t believe CPS never showed up at our house. Our childhood sounds a little savage to me now, considering that my kids rarely even call each other butthead, and I’d die before I’d “whoop” any of them. Simpler times, people. Simpler times.