ONE HUNDRED THIRTY SIX…questions for the void

Lately there has been a small issue Greg and I have not been able to figure out. You see Greg and I are both the youngest in our singing line-up.

***I’m venturing through pictures of yesteryear to help me with this rant***

Greg’s brother is two years older. They grew up in the center of a small town where there were lots of children in their neighborhood to play with. Greg’s brother Rusty, is I am told practically every day, the best big brother anyone could ever ask for. Rusty included Greg in neighborhood football and baseball games. Anytime rusty went over to a friend’s house, Greg was in tow.

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I am the youngest of four. I have two older brothers and an older sister. My youngest brother, whom I idolized as a child, is 7 years older than me. JB, Wes and Lisa are 4 years apart from one another. So when JB was 4, Wes was 8 and Lisa was 12 and I was a mere constellation in the sky. I also have a step sister Debbie who is the same age as Lisa who lived with us from time to time when I was younger. We lived in a small mountain town on the top of, what seemed to me at that time, a mountain. It was a well established neighborhood with young families who had older children around my brothers age. There were no other children my age to play with. So I had a very active imagination. Practically a whole village of imaginary friends whose names were; Good Jimmy, Bad Jimmy, Colgate Winterfresh, Pom Pom, Good Chris and Bad Chris.

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I was always around my brothers friends and wanted to be one of their crowd. JB was 10 when I was 3. When his friends would come over, they would hang out with me for a short time and then of course, go do their own thing. I remember when JB, Wes and Lisa would leave to go visit their dad for christmas. I felt an extreme sense loneliness. JB played with me, he would throw the football with me, played tennis with me, would let me play the Atari with him, and he would walk around the mall with me and pretend it was my friend (Good Jimmy’s) house. When he wasn’t there, I felt it.

Because we lived in a small rural town in northeast Tennessee, I had a lot of little friends. But again, none in my neighborhood to ride bikes with or hang out with on a daily basis. Compared to Greg’s experience of growing up, mine was a very lonely childhood. And then, the summer of what was to be my 5th grade year, my parents divorced and my mother and I moved to a town 2 hours south of everything I ever knew. My brother JB, who was a senior in high school did not move with us. He was everything to me. A father, brother and my own personal hero. It was an incredibly difficult time for everyone.

So here is the point where I segue into what we are experiencing in our own unique family/neighborhood. Because of Greg’s awesome big brother who included him in everything, it is Greg’s belief that Abby should include Phoebe in every activity where friends are involved. Especially since we live in a neighborhood where Abby has many friends and Phoebe doesn’t have any. There are two little girls in this neighborhood one year younger than Abby. They love playing with Abby and tolerate Phoebe. Abby wants to play with her friends and includes Phoebe up to a certain point. There is always a time, when Abby comes to me with friend in tow and lets me know they are ready to play on their own, without Phoebe.

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Taking into account my lonely childhood, I completely see where Greg is coming from. However, at the same time, I notice there is a 3 year age difference. I also understand Phoebe’s intense reaction and can relate to the feeling of watching her sister and playmate run off and have fun with someone else. Abby is everything to Phoebe.

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Phoebe now has an imaginary friend named Lolly Pop.

I am seeing parallels between Phoebe and I.

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It’s really only an issue in the summer. From August to May we are involved in a weekly coop where the girls have classes with kids their own age, both girls attend gymnastics with girls their own age, Phoebe has friends who come over to our house to play with her and she in turn, goes over to play with them once a week. During the summer, when there is no coop, friends are away at camps and the neighborhood girls are at our house everyday. Sometimes I make up things for Phoebe and I to do together. She loves to help me in the kitchen, we make muffins, cookies and she loves to make banana bread. We ride bikes around the neighborhood together. Sometimes we read books together. Other times we watch a little tv.

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I don’t know what the right thing to do is.

My heart aches for Phoebe. My heart aches for all of my girls any time they experience any sort of turbulence in their lives. I have referenced Tim Russerts Big Russ and Me where he writes about how parents are robbing children opportunities of growth because we are fighting their battles for them among many other truths and wisdoms. I most certainly don’t want to deny my children any opportunity for individual growth.

Maybe I should read the book again.

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