Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Itty Bitty Baby Brother

Today, you'll be happy to know, is my 24th anniversary. No, not of being married to Ben (that's three years next month), but of having another fella in my life, my itty bitty baby brother Michael. Yes, 24 years ago, I was sitting in Mrs. Parkinson's class in the middle of a spelling test with a couple dozen other sixth graders when the school secretary's voice came over the loudspeaker to our classroom. 

"Mrs. Parkinson, is Jennifer Armstrong in your class right now?"
"Yes, she is."
"Please inform her that she now has a baby brother and to come to the office to find out all about him."

That's how I heard about my brother. I had a two-year-old sister already, so she was old news. This was something else, though, especially since my whole class squealed with glee (I think they just liked the interruption in the spelling test) and congratulated me. I think there was clapping. At any rate, I was a celebrity. I had both a new brother and a hall pass.

Mrs. Parkinson made me wait until after the test--I was bouncing in my seat, ready to pop--before I could excitedly fast-walk my way to the office to find out more. The secretary happily told me that my mom and my new brother Michael David were fine (my sister had been an intensive-care case, so this was actually something of a relief to me), that he was born at 2:03 p.m. , that he weighed something liek 8 pounds, 3 ounces and that I was to go home with some friends and Daddy would pick me up later. 

I think I actually skipped back to the classroom. I'm glad he was born late afternoon because the rest of the day was a blur. I'd never had a brother before. I wasn't sure what to expect. I met him the next day. It was neat. 

Here's me with my new brother:

I couldn't have known. Being a big sister to Michael has been one of the great joys of my life, even when I was a cranky teenager who didn't want to babysit or a self-absorbed college student or a thirtysomething who lives too far away to see him very often. He's far from done yet, but so far, and despite my best efforts (convincing him that a ghost lived down the drain, reading him bedtime stories about gangrene from a medical book I found, that sort of thing), he's turned out great.

My little brother is smarter and better looking than he likes to admit, hard-working, amiable and uncomplaining, funny as heck, one of the most relentlessly imaginative people I know and probably the single kindest person I've ever met. 

He's completely deserving of a roomful of sixth-grader cheers, then and every year. Whether he deserves to have to put up with a bothersome big sister like me is a much tougher question. 


Look, if he only had a birthday every three years, it would be the 8th anniversary of this picture:


Laura said...

Awwww. Happy Birthday Michael! I don't remember you being born...but I remember deciding to get used to you because mom really wasn't going to send you back. I'm glad she kept you. :)

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