This is one is a little different because I'm not super clear on who exactly I'm speaking to. Is it others who grew up like I did? Parents raising a girl with brothers? The brothers?
Maybe all of them?
I am the eldest of three children. My first brother is about two years younger than I am, my second is five years younger. Our mom left our father when we were all quite little. Growing up was hard in some ways...we didn't have much money
I include this for some context of course
A girl with brothers will be asked to sacrifice.
What, exactly, will comprise that sacrifice depends of course. Sometimes it's time; sacrificing time that she, perhaps, was looking forward to spending on herself. Sometimes its money. Sometimes its labor.
I sacrificed building myself as a person with likes/dislikes, with desires, with ambitions, with goals. The sports my brothers played cost too much for me to also have something
It was necessary for them.
For me, it was necessary to sacrifice
A girl with brothers knows that her emotions, her sadness, her anger, her joy, her rage, her fears--all of them are things she's expected to manage on her own.
Her brothers, meanwhile, are different
Oh she knows this. Life isn't kind to her but it is certainly kind to her brothers, who never know what it means to feel anything they don't want to
The boys come home filthy. Their friends drape, sweat-soaked, over the furniture. The kitchen is a mess. Everything is coated with that particular grime of pre-adolescent children who have been outside all day in the heat.
The girl should know better! She should KNOW the boys just can't, and she must because Mother WORKS ALL DAY & how ungrateful to have her come home to a filthy house?
You have to grow up. Be responsible
It's just how it is.
But it has nothing to do with you being a girl, or them being a boy. Of course not. How dare you even suggest it. How dare you.
This is the dangerous one friends. Because a girl with brothers know how hard it is. Because it'd be impossible not to see how hard Mother works, how difficult life has been, how much stress and exhaustion go into keeping things together.
write your brother's essay, I know he should've done it but you're the more responsible one
lend your brother some money I know he should've saved his own but you're the more responsible one
forgive your brother, I know it was cruel, be the bigger person
The problem for a girl who has only brothers is that she is expected to shrink back while they are allowed to shine and then, when outsiders wonder why she isn't as funny, or smart, or charming, or interesting, she is blamed for it
"she never does anything." as she finishes their homework, does their dishes, folds their clothes
And then at Thanksgiving aunts and uncles don't spend much time on her. Even the ones with daughters themselves don't, because they have only daughters
She can't be. She wasn't ever allowed to be.
When girls with only brothers lose their father--whether though accident or design--it's not important how she feels because everyone knows boys need fathers.
Girls will be ok
So they go on skiing trips every other weekend during the winter time with their uncle. The girl isn't invited. Not once.
After all, boys need a father
Who cares that she doesn't have memories. She didn't need them. The boys did
If you are a girl who only has brothers, who has sacrificed her own needs for theirs, there is only one thing that can save her.
She has to be pretty.
Or even if she is a completely average little kid who goes through the same awkward phases all little kids go through?
Tell her to her face. Laugh when the boys mock her. Make sure she knows just how she has failed
Too late. The damage has been done. She will never be anything but ugly, but wrong, but lacking in all ways. She will never be anything but a shadow while the boys shine.
A girl with only brothers
A girl in a broken family where resources are scarce
A girl who is not pretty, who is quiet and shy
A girl who needs adults to notice her, who needs care and gentleness but does not get it.....there is nothing sadder. Nothing lonelier
If you're the brothers? Speak up for her. Prioritize her. Remember her even when your parents don't
If you're the parent? her acquiescence, her responsibility does not mean she's ok