Sometimes, watching my older three kids is sort of like watching blips of my past. As a child, it was me and my two older brothers. Now I have two boys and a girl running around (plus Maura…but Maura is sometimes her own separate entity, if that makes sense.)
Right now, the older three are in the kitchen, supposedly doing dishes. Having lived the other end of it, I can only imagine what’s going on. My brothers and I did all sorts of mayhem in lieu of the chores we were actually supposed to be doing. Oh, we did get them done. But there were arguments and goofing off and the occasional ride across the kitchen on the portable dishwasher in-between the actual dish washing.
My oldest brother John was the ringleader. The one who came up with crazy ideas. Like “Hey, let’s put Phoebe on our shoulders and try to see what’s really in the front attic.” And for some reason, Joe and I would go along with it. Yes, I did get put up on someone’s shoulders and tried to break into the front attic, which we were certain was filled with all sorts of interesting things. Looking back, I wonder if that’s where my mother hid Christmas presents and the like. The attic door was in the ceiling, basically a piece of wood covering the opening that you pushed up onto. However, the attic door slammed down after I pushed it, which freaked me out. I was certain there was something living up there and so was no longer game to help them break in. Later, we got in trouble for doing this and we had no clue how my mother found out (we were too naive to notice we left a barrage of dirty little fingerprints on the attic entrance.)
Another time, we decided to climb the tall maple tree in the back yard. Which was a feat as there were no low branches. The first branch was well above the first story of our house. One of the boys managed to throw a rope around the lowest branch and tied it off and we were to use that to scale our way up the tree trunk. For some reason, I ended up going first, climbing that tree like one would a mountain. I got almost to the first branch when I realized how high up I was, and managed to make my way back down. I don’t think the boys made it as far as I did.
One very memorable occasion was a certain Easter morning, when John (who could never wait) woke Joe and I up very early. I don’t know how early, just that it was still dark out (when our parents found out, the new rule was John had to wait until it was daylight to wake us up to open presents or find baskets.) Our parents had hidden the baskets that year, so we spent all that early morning trying to find them. One was on the basement steps. One I think was in my mom’s sewing area. But Joe’s, which was the third, was hard to find. We looked everywhere. After an hour, one of us noticed that our dog was sitting in one spot, looking up. We looked up. There, on the curtain rod, was Joe’s basket. Of course, at that point, I was so tired (I do think John got us up at four a.m.), I curled up under the one chair next to the heat register where it was warm. I was a small girl, I liked curling up in weird little places.
Today, I watch my three do similar things – annoying each other, helping each other out, plotting against their parents – and I can almost see visions of my past right before my eyes. The oldest one ringleading, the younger two following along. Collin doesn’t like going down into the basement as much as my brother John didn’t. Sean is into helping out animals as much as my brother Joe would rescue them. Miriam has a stuffed doll collection that rivals the one I had. Of course, in most ways, my three are very much their own people, but every so often, there is that glimmer.