As I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before, Daniel and I are opposite bookends in our families—I am the oldest of seven, and he is the youngest of five. Both large families, but very different in the sense that all of Daniel’s siblings are grown and out of the house, some of them with families of their own, while all of my siblings are still at home (with Marie at college for parts of the year). My parents are a good number of years younger than Daniel’s parents, too; they practically grew up in different generations.
Daniel’s parents were also married and started having children young, soon after graduating from high school. His Dad worked nights and his Mom worked days so that there would be someone at home with the kids. Daniel was born with four older siblings waiting for him—two sisters around ten and eleven years old at the time (I’m not 100% sure that’s right…), one five-year-old brother, and a two-year-old sister.
As the youngest child, Daniel (or “Danny” as he was and is called by his family) was the one being taken care of, just like I helped to take care of my younger siblings. He also had a role model in his older brother, which is something I never experienced. When Daniel was little, he always wanted to do everything his brother could do, which was often difficult since he was five years younger. From a very young age, Daniel was playing video games, watching TV, and reading comic books right along with his brother. In the meantime, somewhere not too far away, I was playing dress-up and dolls and getting my nose stuck in books that were above my reading level. Sometimes I imagine what Daniel and I would have thought of each other if we had met when we were little kids—we were two very different children!
When Daniel was starting high school, his family moved from the small house in the neighborhood that had clearly gone downhill since his parents had moved there to a house in a rural area similar to where my parents moved. Today, Daniel’s brother is in med school in Alabama, the sister closest to our age is living in West Virginia, and his two oldest sisters are married with children and living elsewhere in Maryland. Daniel’s parents are now both retired.
Spending time at their house is extremely different from spending time at my family’s house; it’s amazing that Daniel is able to fit comfortably into both environments—he has become so much a part of my family that he now knows, at least to a certain extent, what it’s like to be at both bookends. I still only know my own, and I am not the best chameleon. I guess I still have a lot of learning to do…