June 21, 2010

All Grown Up

Today is my brother's 16th Birthday.

This is him back when he was 11/12ish, right before he got braces. I said we needed to have a "Before" picture of him.
This is him at his 15th birthday last year. This was literally right after knee surgery #1. Poor kid spent all summer on the couch.

It's so weird to think of him turning 16. Even weirder to think that I won't be there to celebrate it with him and annoy him with my camera. He is VERY picture-shy. And anytime he hears the camera he immediately shouts, "That better not go on facebook!" He has some really weird paranoia about having his picture online. Of course, none of us respect it. :)

I miss my brother. I was 10 when he was born, so he was like my little baby. We've always been close. He always had a sweet spirit, still very much a boy, but where other little boys became obsessed with all things gross and angry, he was always just a little more mature than his age. He's never hit anyone in his life. Not even as a toddler. No, I'm not exaggerating. Ask anyone. The concept of an "annoying little brother" was foreign to me, but that's probably because he's the least obnoxious kid around.

Although I guess he's not really a kid anymore. He's becoming a young man.

SoldierMan and I started dating when we were 16. Weird. Weird. Weird. I can't even think about that.

Thankfully, the boy has sworn off dating. I know, I laughed, too. Last year, during the most-drugged-up phase of the knee surgery recovery, he gave me a long speech about how teenagers dating was pointless and stupid and only led to heartbreak and tragedy and drama. And girls are stupid. At least all the girls he knows. Except C______. She's pretty cool. But anyway, it's stupid. So I won't date until college. If I date. Dating's stupid....

It was like that for about 45 minutes before he passed out from the meds. It was awesome. :) The best thing about the knee surgeries was that the drugs made him yappy. The kid never stopped talking. Which is unusual. He's a man of few words. He makes those few words count, for sure, but still, sometimes it's like pulling teeth.

I just have to brag about him, because he's pretty awesome. He's a laid-back, mild-mannered guy but very passionate about the things he's passionate about. Maybe it's all those years of suffering in silence.

See, when he was little, at some point (they think) he broke his big toe. And because he either didn't know how to say what was wrong or because it happened gradually over a series of events, no one knew. There was no visible sign of injury. And so the toe grew back together wrong. But not visibly. And he spent the next 10ish years of his life in chronic pain, because he didn't know it was supposed to not hurt. He finally became pretty much sedentary. So my parents started pushing him to find out why he stopped wanting to play soccer and t-ball and all those things he liked when he was younger. And he said it was because his feet hurt. So, several surgeries over the course of a few years. And then they discover that his knees are messed up. So last year were the knee surgeries and the physical therapy.

And now, at least from a mechanical perspective, he's in tip-top shape. A few battle scars, sure. But he's got an endurance of character that rivals others older than him. He's also learned about having long-term vision. 5 surgeries over 5 years with only 1 ultimate goal - to walk without pain - will do that to a person.

He's also got this great sense of humor. A very dry, witty sarcasm like the me and my sister. Not that mean kind of mocking sarcasm that other people have (and some never grow out of, sadly). He's very clever and creative. He's also very compassionate. Until high school, he was usually one of the biggest kids in his class. And he invariably wound up best friends with the smallest kid. He's got a tender heart but also a strong sense of right and wrong. Like me, he doesn't handle stupid well. :)

And of course, no discussion of my brother would be complete without...
the hair.
This is his trademark. Sometime a few years ago, he decided he liked having long hair. Which is kind of funny, because other than SoldierMan for a couple of years in highschool/college, no one in our family has long hair. And it's this strange Tiananmen Square-type standoff between him and my parents. My mom, really, notsomuch. My dad just doesn't think it looks good. And every week, they go round and round about the hair. I tell them it's because it's the only thing they have to complain about. The kid self-polices his homework, doesn't talk back, doesn't sneak out of the house, doesn't chase girls and goes to church every Sunday. I tell them they don't know how good they have it. But I think they really do.

And, I just have to end with this. He's a very smart kid, but it took him a while to learn the school game, and to overcome the damage some bad teachers did to him over the years. Because he's a reader, he's always done very well in language arts. But math wasn't his strong suit. I understand, it's not mine, either. But he's struggled for a while. Like, he's always tested a grade or two below on the annual standardized tests. But this year he entered algebra, and had a really good math teacher for the first time in, well, ever. And this year, he scored two grades above in the math section of the standardized test!! :) I can just imagine what that meant to him. I know what it would have meant to me.

Anyway, he's my brother, and I love him. And I miss him a lot.

And today is his birthday.


  1. What a sweet post! Your little brother is like Mr. Superman. Knee surgeries, layed up for the summer, yappy only on drugs, hates cameras. So funny! I was also his first serious dating experience which was when he was in college! Happy Birthday to your little brother! My baby brother is 16 too and it still weirds me out.

  2. My goodness, JG. I don't even know your brother and I think I love the kid! What a wonderful birthday tribute. Thanks for sharing with us what a great guy he is. Happy Birthday to him!

  3. What a wonderful birthday post!! Happy Birthday to him!! :)

  4. Awww, Happy Birthday little Brother =) What a cutie =) And YAY for his philosophy on dating, I totally agree with him!! Dating is dumb, and so are girls, or at least crazy, especially at that age, especially with that good looking of a guy!! He must get his amazing wisdom from a certain awesome big sister =)

  5. Awww, Happy Birthday little Brother =) What a cutie =) And YAY for his philosophy on dating, I totally agree with him!! Dating is dumb, and so are girls, or at least crazy, especially at that age, especially with that good looking of a guy!! He must get his amazing wisdom from a certain awesome big sister =)

  6. Aww Happy Birthday to your little brother! That's so sweet.

    I think that's awesome what he said about dating. I couldn't agree more. G.I. Joe and I could have dated in high school but he had more will power than me and said he didn't want to blow the real thing. Anything worth having is worth the wait anyways :)

  7. what a great birthday post:O)
    he sounds like a doll.
    i love how much you love him-- it's great to have siblings you really respect that make you proud by just being themselves!

  8. Little brothers are the best!!! Yours sounds awesome :-)

  9. Happy birthday to your little brother! He sounds like an awesome young man. I'm a big fan of my big brother. We were always so close growing up, and it's so hard living so far away from each other. I can only hope that my kids have the kind of sibling relationship that I had and still have with my brother. Sweet post!

  10. What a SWEET post! Happy Birthday do your amazing little brother :)

  11. Happy Birthday to your little brother! He sounds like an amazing guy!

  12. Happy Birthday to your brother! He is going to be an amazing catch when he decides he wants to start dating! He will go far!!!

  13. Aw, Happy Birthday to your Brother! I'm sorry you can't be there with him.

  14. He sounds awesome :) It's wonderful that in spite of the age difference, you're close.
    I had a similar battle with my son with the hair. I figured I'd pick my battles..then he went out for the basketball team. He came home from the first practice and asked for a haircut. Coach told him "Cut your hair son, you can't play ball if you can't see it" I love that coach!

  15. I was almost nine when my baby brother was born. He'll be 22 this year and it freaks me out. He's old enough to drink and smoke and get married and have kids. When did that happen???

  16. Happy Birthday to your little brother! It is hard being apart from family & siblings for sure. I'm definitely missing mine. I hope you got a chance to talk to him.

  17. Haha! I love the dating part. So true - in some ways - unless you find your soul mate like you did! :) And me as well since Collin and I started dating when we were 17.

    Hapy Birthday to your brother!


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