They toughen you up. My big brother does not mince words. When I was little, he teased me about everything, from my pointy forehead (what?) to my razor-sharp mouth. If I wore a ridiculous outfit, he would say, “That outfit looks ridiculous”. As a result, I wasn’t surprised when other kids teased me. I was annoyed, but having to deal with an older brother took the sting out of being picked on.

You don’t have to compete with them. I never felt the need to compete with my brother growing up. He had his place in the family, as the firstborn son, and I had mine: the only girl. My brother was involved in everything from sports to student government, yet I never felt threatened by his success, or felt as though I had to get from behind his shadow. (Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t mind being in the background. I actually prefer it) I was able to carve out my own identity because I had different interests from him.

They protect you. I believe that every girl needs a strong male role model in her life. I’m blessed to have two of them. (I have an equally strong-willed father) My brother was (and still is) very protective of me. According to him, no man is good enough for his baby sister though, a few have been deemed “passable”. (That’s the highest praise any man will get from my brother. Passable.) The neighbourhood thugs wouldn’t even approach me out of respect for my brother. And while my brother can make fun of me for being a bookish weirdo, he’ll beat the snot out of anyone who tries to do the same.

They give great advice. Who was the first person to tell me I didn’t belong in art college? My brother. Who was the one who advised me to invest in RRSPs early? My brother. And Who told me that I should do my own taxes instead of paying someone to do them for me? My brother. Basically, when my brother tells me to do something, I’m inclined to listen. Unless, I think his idea is stupid.

They’re fun. My brother inherited the storytelling gene, so he can take a seemingly mundane event and make it sound exciting. (Whereas, I’ve inherited the opposing gene that takes interesting topics and somehow makes them boring)  He’s also witty and has the same snide sense of humour as me–only he’s less of a diplomat. That fact alone automatically makes him fun to be around.

They’re really smart. My brother is a smart guy. Like, 3 degrees smart. He knows a lot about a variety of different topics that he is enthusiastic about sharing. Plus he’s kind of a know-it all. Then again, so am I. I think it’s genetic.

They have cool stuff. My brother used to have a big metal Tonka truck that I quickly commandeered, painted with pink nail polish, and began using it for my Barbies. This was not the last time I borrowed something of his. Through the years, I’ve listened to all of his cassette tapes, read a good portion of his mandatory reads for university, and even repossessed his leather bomber jacket, which was too small for him anyway.

They don’t allow you to feel sorry for yourself. I love women, and I love being a woman, but sometimes we can enable each other to wallow in self-pity, when we should be encouraging each other to move on. My brother didn’t give me the space to wallow.  (Or the time) Instead, he encouraged me to do something other than think about everything that was wrong with my life. Since he was well-versed in the history of our ancestors, he reminded me that a lot of people would love to have the opportunities that I take for granted, so I may as well enjoy my life. And he should know. In spite of his status as a pessimist realist, he is able to see the good in the most awful situations.

They’re brave.  When I was six, my brother jumped off the roof of our house onto the ground. A few years later, he jumped from the ground, over my (very tall) uncle’s head, and onto a tree branch. He also carried a burning frying pan outside–with his bare hands. (And with a giant flame blowing in his face. It was a sight to behold) I was timid for a long time, but watching my brother face down a lot of tough situations with boldness let me know that I was capable of being as courageous as he was. (We do have the same DNA, after all)

I always wanted a sister when I was little, but I wouldn’t trade my big brother for anything. Growing up with him as my third parent/antagonist/confidante/friend/protector helped form me into the person I am today. Without him, I wouldn’t be nearly as tough, snarky, patient, and smart. (Hey, I read all of his books. I’d better be smart!) Instead of two princes or princesses, duking it out for household supremacy, my brother and I were the prince and princess of a well-run kingdom. We knew our roles, without trying to overrule each other. (We’re both too stubborn, so it’s pointless to try to make us do something we don’t want to do. Pointless.) Also, we were independent leaders, rather than followers because our parents encouraged us to think for ourselves. I don’t think they knew what they were in for.

Because of my brother I learned the importance of sharing. (Mostly because, he wouldn’t share with me, so I just took what I wanted) I learned how to study. (By watching him do it) He was the first person who taught me how to drive. (Which is why I still don’t have my licence at 32. Ha.) He also made sure that I kept writing–even when I didn’t feel like doing it. Basically, my brother is great.

If you have a sister, God bless you. For me, brothers are where it’s at.




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