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On Being a Big Brother

Ever since my mother sang the first verse of Rolf Harris's classic "Two little boys" to me, I had an idea of what it would mean to be a big brother. Today is my brother's birthday and I thought I would write this piece as a short homage to him. I have wanted to put my thoughts down on the subject for a very long time but, for the longest time, I have not had the courage to share publicly what has been on my heart for the majority of my life. Yet, I think it is necessary, if not for my own sake or that of my sibling, then for the world and its big brothers that are or have yet to be.

Being a big brother to a sibling, for me at least, has always been something where I saw myself in the role of a protector. Yet, in my life, I failed at this quite spectacularly right from the word go. My brother and I are very different. I am an extrovert. He is not. I wanted to be his friend. To my understanding, he always wanted to be an only child. I wear my heart on my sleeve. He has always been closeted, emotionally speaking. Of course, I am writing this from the perspective of the observer. It is my subjective experience and it is something that has caused me, rather than to be his protector, to be his tormentor when we were kids. It is one of the great regrets of my life.

I don't believe my brother ever needed my protection. I don't believe my brother ever wanted my protection. I don't really believe that my brother ever wanted me in his life to begin with. And so it was that we became rivals, at odds with one another. As kids, I cast a very big shadow over him. And I don't think my mother did either of us any favours by casting me as her favourite. I was always made out to be the "bright one", the one who would go out and change the world, the one who would succeed no matter what. While she never voiced these words, the message was always that he was, as Prince Harry coined the phrase, "the spare". I can never imagine how this must have affected him, growing up.

The irony of the matter is, he is anything but stupid or in any way lacking in ability. At this stage in my life, while I would have chosen to have had a different relationship with him, I have nothing but pride and admiration for the man he has become. He is a doting husband, a loving father, and an accomplished prof