My mum says, ‘Do you want a brother or a sister?’ And I say ‘a sister’. Not long after that my mum brings a baby home and it’s you… a brother. Not the sister I wanted. I’m not happy and I resent you – I’m five.
My dad leaves our family when you’re two and I’m seven. You don’t understand, you’re just a baby. But me? I know what’s going on and I’m heartbroken.
My daddy is my life and now all I have is you and my mummy, and I would rather have daddy. You don’t really have a relationship with him after this.
It’s kind of like you never had a dad. When he comes to visit, it’s clear I am his favourite and I feel guilty and kind of smug at the same time.
When you’re three and I’m eight, you get really cute and I kind of start to like you. I remember mum yelling at you, ‘Hey! Get down from there’ and you turning around and being caught with your hand in the biscuit tin. I think that’s cheeky and that you are super fun, and I begin to think maybe a brother isn’t so bad after all.
As you grow, it becomes clear that you’re different. You’re gentle and my mum tucks your shirt into your pants and pulls your socks up to your knees. It makes me angry and I yell at her to ‘stop treating him like a girl’.
All of a sudden I like having a brother – a boy. Someone to boss around. Someone younger than me. All of a sudden, I like you. All of a sudden I want to protect you and I start acting more like a parent – not a sister.
You’re so little and I’m so tall, I can fit you exactly between my legs and pretend you’re giving me a shoulder ride. Everyone thinks that’s funny, even you, and you cackle like a magpie until tears squirt from your eyes and we both fall on the ground in a heap of giggles.
You have beautiful hair: it’s golden and streaked with white. I love it and am kind of obsessed. I’m 10 and you’re five and I like to play with it, pulling the hairdryer out and teasing it and styling it with gel and hairspray. Sometimes I dress you like a girl, you hate this, but love me so much that you’d let me paint crocodiles on your face if I wanted to.
One day when you’re seven and I’m 12, we’re at mum’s friend’s house. I’m playing chasey with the kids and you’re in the loungeroom watching TV. All of a sudden, one of the kids runs in and sits on your head and farts!
You immediately vomit onto the floor in front of you. We all laugh so hard we can’t stand up. You’re in tears and I feel bad for laughing. But I still laugh and kind of wish you were stronger and didn’t care so much.
You wet the bed chronically until age nine and at some point my mum decides this isn’t right and so off you go to the kids psychiatrist who does a bunch of tests. They come back and say you’re special – ‘Xtra special’. That’s what the pamphlet says that I find in mum’s top drawer.
It says you have Klinefelters Syndrome, an extra X with your XY, making you an XXY. It means you’ll be dyslexic, will grow super tall and might never have kids, which is confirmed later by another test. I’m shocked and scared, because by now – I love you. With all my heart. But it doesn’t make me a better sister, it just makes me wonder what you having this thing means for me.