My Brother turns 26 in 10 days. And since I’m cheap, I decided to write him his birthday present. That’s mostly about me. Happy Birthday Hayden. You’re welcome.

When I was four (and a half) I BEGGED my mom for a sibling. PLEASE mom. Can I please have a little brother or sister? 

I wanted the responsibility of setting an example. Plus someone to hang out with; adults are boring.

My mom uncomfortably and effectively dodged this conversation with grace. She was a responsible parent, so she didn’t ever break it down to me that it takes two people to make a baby, and my dad and her were divorced, and that logistically this would be a bit awkward etc.

She likely said something along the lines of “I’ll think about it.” – which probably worked because I was really naive as a kid, and I thought people actually meant it. (Same with “I’ll tell you when you’re older.” – I thought they actually WOULD tell me. When I was 13 I was really put out to find that they didn’t even remember! The nerve.)

Anyways. To help mom think about it, I decided to level-up my efforts and approach upper-management. I prayed to God every night. I kneeled in front of my home-made dollhouse and said: “Please God, can I please have a little brother or sister? I’d really like someone to play with. I promise to be the best big sister ever. Thank you.” 

Maybe occasionally I’d throw in that I’d really also love a new Polly Pocket, or an extra plate of dessert. But I pretty much focused in on that little sibling.

It took a while, but the day came. My mom told me that I was going to have a little brother or sister.

HOLY MOLEY. I made a freaking baby. I MADE A FREAKING BABY!  

I was STOKED. No big deal or anything, just a five-year-old making babies like it’s a piece-a-cake. I was extremely impressed with myself.

(*For those of you keeners wondering where this little baby *actually* came from, like, from a non-five-year-old perspective… This part is a little embarrassing for my parents (sorry guys) and funny to me. My parents happened to share ONE lonely night, TOGETHER, and HAPPENED to get pregnant. My biological dad. And biological mom. And probably God or some shit. They happened to conceive my 100% biological bother in a one-night-stand. Stay classy you crazy kids!)

Before he arrived, I felt responsible for him. I mean, come on. I MADE him. I mean, God helped and stuff, but still. This was big! I could teach him things, and we could play together at the park. We would be best friends too, of course.

So when the time came that my mom went into labour, she came and woke me upon the middle of the night, told me that she was going to the hospital.

I remember, I went to get out of bed and grab my coat. Alright, it’s time to have my baby. 

Mom stopped me. “No honey, you’re going to stay here with Grampa and Gramma. You can come visit tomorrow.”

What? 

I was so hurt; so disappointed.

But that’s my baby. 

I couldn’t understand not being included in this very important part of… whatever happens when someone has a baby. (I had a pregnant Barbie. Her tummy kind of flipped inside-out to have her babies. I figured the logistics of this in real life would be relatively easy for me to comprehend.) How could I not be there??

I was a pretty obedient kid, so even though I was hurt, I didn’t really put up a fuss. I went back to bed.

When I finally got to see him the next day, I thought I got to name him. I mean, if I haven’t made it clear already, this was my damn baby. I don’t remember what I wanted to call him. Maybe Sparky or Ned. I have no idea. I soon learned I didn’t get to name him either. Bunk.

Oh well. He was my baby. And here he was in my arms. Hayden Anthony Lee. 

He was kind of weird looking and squished up. He had this sticky chunk of black hair, and his eyes were like little fleshy slits. But I didn’t mind. I loved him so much. I was so happy.

I can’t remember how long the novelty lasted. But it was pretty short lived. People would come to visit us, and bring presents. Presents! I LOVE presents! (I was still holding out for that Polly Pocket – thank you God for the little brother and all, but I’m still waiting on a few more things… just a reminder!) But I found out that the presents weren’t for me. Not one of them. HE got them all. And mom might’ve got a couple.

These people would gush over HIM. And how cute HE was. And if they talked to me, they asked me what I thought of HIM. I was getting so annoyed. No one cared about me anymore. Was I even cute anymore? People used to tell me I was, but not anymore. No one mentioned how much I’d grown, or how big I was getting. They just talked about HIM all the time. Ugh.

Well. It got worse before it got better. I had assumed that I would be able to train my little sibling to be a kind, respectful human, that would do the things I asked. I wound up with this little creature that would run butt-naked into my room and touch all my stuff! EW.

AND he wore diapers. So gross. I didn’t know they would wear diapers when they could walk. Learn to use a toilet, jeez.

He didn’t listen to me. And he couldn’t even talk properly. I had to tell everyone what he was saying so they would know. How would he ever get through this life without me?

I couldn’t figure him out. He had no sense of responsibility. Even as he got older. He was loud, and wild. He wore the WEIRDEST things. He didn’t care what anyone thought. He would ‘fish’ off the edge of a boat that was parked in a driveway. He wore his underwear on the outside of his clothes. He would get naked anytime he saw water in any form (rain barrel, horse trough, puddle, you name it). He didn’t become my best friend at all; in fact he tattled on me all the time! What a rip off. And much to my prolonging dismay, he became cuter… and I got my two front adult teeth.

(Hi. Side-note. Let’s all take a moment to consider my giant-ass adult teeth on the small face of a 7 year old. Poor, poor Tanya. I’m so sorry for your face.)

There was never a time I came to understand him. There are times even now, I can struggle to relate to my brother, though as years have passed (and we stopped sharing a bathroom) I appreciate him so much more.

My brother has rare qualities that I haven’t come across in many people. He can make anyone feel absolutely comfortable with exactly who they are. He’s easy-going, open-minded. He is a compassionate listener and he will help you whenever you ask him. I have never seen him express judgement on a person (except maybe the occasional politician); he’s delightfully nerdy (he has a Star Wars tattoo, and plays D&D on the reg.) and he can rattle off the most random, useless facts you’ll never need. He makes the MOST accurate voice impressions (The Family Guy ones are my personal fav), and he’s a tremendously talented actor. And if you need to feel supported in something that you do not feel confident in, my brother should be your first call.

Hayden is the only person – to this day – that I feel comfortable failing in front of. I will sing things that aren’t ready in front of him, I will try new techniques, I’ll bounce new ideas and thoughts; and he’s this perfect, non-judgemental sounding board (my husband a very close second). When I was younger, there was a period of years I didn’t sing in front of ANYONE. I would sing in front of Hayden.

I’m grateful to have this butt-munch in my life. Even when I thought he was an irresponsible, attention-seeking, diaper-butted, thumb-sucking cling-on. He was still okay. And he still is.

Sometimes I still give God a little shout-out for the fact that my parents had irresponsible, unprotected sex. Well done all. Well done.

Happy Birthday Sparky or Ned, or whatever your name is. Love you. And I’m so glad I MADE YOU.