My youngest son Cole is 5½ years old but he didn’t speak until he was almost four. With speech therapy and preschool its become much easier to understand him over the last year but when he’s upset, forget it. He’s upset often, and most times it is because one of his brother has done – something.

Yesterday, he began screaming at Miles his nine-year-old brother incessantly. My mom went to find out what was going on and Cole began crying, screaming, yelling all at the same time. As he usually is when he’s upset, he was completely unintelligible. We’ve learned through experience to try to calm him down, but it’s difficult to do and we’re rarely successful. On this occasion his brother Devin, six, had witnessed the entire incident and explained to my mom exactly who had done what to whom. She scolded Miles and as she turned to leave the room she heard Cole say to his brother, “Thank you Devin, you make me feel so much better.”

How wonderful to be blessed with siblings. I say this mind you as the youngest of three. My sister Dawn is six years older than me and Jim two years younger than her. When Jim was born, the story goes, Dawn, upon hearing the news of his birth, climbed onto the roof of my aunt’s car, took off all her clothes and began dancing and singing “I have a baby brother, I have a baby brother.” I was born four years later; I received no such welcome. I do however have a picture of the three of us when I was about two that shows the atmosphere in which I dwelled. I’m looking at the camera; they’re both glaring at me. You can tell by the look on Dawn’s face, the last thing she wanted at that moment was to have her picture taken with this little brat, she’d much rather have been flogging me I’m sure.

They both deny that they treated me badly, but I have something neither of them was blessed with, a nearly photographic memory. One of my first memories is of me being loaded into an inner tube they had tied a rope to it and slowly being drifting out into a small river. I was terrified, they were thrilled. I also remember crawling under a table in a hotel room when I was about four. My parents were out and Dawn and Jim were trying to force feed me coffee. Dawn swears she never would have done anything like that, but to this day I can’t stand anything that is coffee flavored.

Lets just say we weren’t close as children. One of my best friends, Van, recalls the first time he met Dawn and I. It was at our church. They were in the lobby talking; I walked up and without saying a word, kicked her in the shin as hard as I could, then walked away. “That’s my sister,” she said. ‘I hate her.” I of course have no memory of this, but with all the abuse I took I’m sure she deserved it.

The times I remember my brother and sister ganging up on me were the times when they were bored and alone. Thank God that wasn’t too often or I’d probably be dead. We grew up in a home filled with anywhere from 6 to 20 teenagers in addition to ourselves. I know for a fact that many of them would tell you how annoying I was as a child. The good part about living with all of those other boys is that they kept Dawn and Jim busy and away from me, the bad part was now I had to deal with all of them hating me as well. I shouldn’t say they all hated me, but I was several years younger and the last thing teenagers want to deal with is a little kid following them around.

When Dawn graduated from high school she and my mom flew Stateside to get her settled into college while my dad, Jim and I stayed in the Philippines for the summer. That’s when Jim and I became close, it was just the two of us now, somehow that helped. I don’t know if Dawn was the instigator of my torture all those years, but I think Jim fed off her. Either way without her around my life became much easier.

Two years later Dawn came home to the Philippines to live with the family our last year overseas. I was now almost 14, and much more mature than when she had left. I think actually both of us realized we were sisters, the only ones we would ever have and perhaps we should work at being friends. I remember her asking me if there were any boys in the dorm I had a crush on, I was so shocked she was talking to me as if I was an actual person. I didn’t trust her yet so I lied, in reality I had a very painful crush on one boy in particular and when she said, “what about so-and-so?” I couldn’t believe it. I’ve since come to realize I’m incapable of hiding my feelings, I think everyone knew about my little crush.

Dawn and I have over the years, become so close we don’t have to finish sentences when we’re talking. She is “ying” to my “yang”. We are complete opposites but we compliment each other nicely. I’ve often said, “Together we make the perfect woman, if you could just get rid of all the crazy.” Two different kinds of crazy as one friend says of us.

It’s a blessing to have siblings you can, not only depend on, but ones you really love to be around. Dawn, Jim and I are completely different in our thought processes as well as our beliefs, but we understand and accept each other like no one else in the world ever will, even our parents. I know I can say anything to either one of them and they’ll still love me, and not because they have to. I know several people who never see, let alone speak to their siblings. Its a rare thing my family, I guess we’ve always been considered a little strange, but people seem to admire our love for each other; even if they can’t relate to it. I think some friends may actually be a little envious of us.

Lately I spend almost every weekend with Dawn and it’s not rare for us to end up laughing until we’re crying or peeing our pants…but incontinence is no laughing matter. Unless of course its 3 am, and your watching your sister pee all over Santa Monica Blvd because one of her teenagers has trapped himself in her car with the alarm blaring. It’s one of those new cars with no keys and no way to unlock the doors and get out without the key fob. Add to this her 15 year old son who has falling on the sidewalk and is laughing so hard he’s incapable of explaining to the 6’4″ transvestite trying to help him that he’s really ok. You can’t buy memories like that.

I have seen my niece Janae and her brother Christopher go from hating each other two years ago, to supporting, understanding and loving each other. I pray as my boys get older they will continue to look to one another for the kind of friendship, love and support that can only come from your siblings. I’ll be a happy old woman, if my sons have grown into good friends twenty years from now, just as Dawn, Jim and I have.