Childhood Family

Oh, little brothers

The other day, my wife and I celebrated our 17th anniversary. I have written plenty of anniversary columns over the years, so this won’t be one of them. I think the fact that we hit 17 years can be summed up with this one sentence: My wife is very patient.

But that evening, we decided to go dinner. And we brought along our 12-year-old son to enjoy the occasion. Now, some of you may wonder why on our special evening we brought a kid with us. Well, first off, after 17 years of marriage, this was about our 6,000th meal together. Plus, we’re not huge special occasion celebrants for our milestones. Sure, we’ll enjoy a nice dinner, but it’s OK if one or both of the kids join the party.

And on this occasion, it was just one. The reason? Our daughter had failed to clean her room and was thus denied dinner for the evening.

Ha! Little bad parenting humor for you there. No, the reason only my son came with us is that our teenage daughter had two of her friends over. And I have a very reliable source that tells me it is a bad idea to leave a little brother home with his older sister when she is having her friends over.

If my three older sisters and any of their childhood friends are reading this, they are all nodding in agreement.

My son tried to back out of the night. “You and mom go. I’ll be fine. I promise I won’t bother Allie and her friends.”

That may have been a noble intent. I also know it was more than likely an unachievable goal.

I remember many times when my sisters would have friends over. And I remember many of those times that ended with my sister screaming, “MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMM!” followed by me running from the room, probably trying to find an escape route, laughing maniacally all the way.

In short, unsupervised little brothers are, when friends of a sister are over, inherently awful.

It’s something tied into little boy DNA. Introduce a new friend, and the little brother will, say, randomly pick a boy’s name out and announce that his sister is quite fond of him. Or, he will bring out a pet snake and make an uninvited and unwelcome appearance. Or he will decide it’s time for a quick game of football and throw the ball at the friends repeatedly, despite the fact that they have made it very clear that they do not want to play and continue even after the threat of bodily harm from his sister.

Sadly, I am not talking about things my son has done, but things that I did to my sisters. Knowing he is a mini-clone of me, I figured it better to let his sister have some peace.

One time when I was a kid, just a few minutes before one of my sisters was having some friends over, our ice maker broke and began flooding the kitchen. My sister blamed me for it, and while I am pretty sure I did not have a hand in the flooding event, I can, in retrospect, see how I would be a suspect based on my previous body of work.

Don’t get me wrong. Our kids are at the age where they can be left together should we go out. But on a night when a teenager is having some friends over for the first time, pretty much the last thing she wants to be stressing about is whether her naked brother is going to come streaking through the house.

As for my wife and me having a special dinner together, I’d say it was pretty special. We got to spend a nice night with our son, and our daughter had a fun evening with her friends.

Sometimes, there are decisions when everyone wins. If we need a night just for us, we can do that on dinner 6,346.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C., and now lives in Charleston. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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