I really have two nice sisters. But whenever we get together for family gatherings such as Thanksgiving or Christmas it seems we get into an argument. Jane Sorenson, my older sister who now lives in Salt Lake City, and Karen Schneider, my younger sister who lives in Sandy, are always talking about "when we were kids" and telling stories about me that aren't true.
For instance, while we were all recently sitting at the dinner table Jane and Karen started saying things like "when we were kids Brent never did the dishes and we had to do it for him," or "when we were kids Brent never cleaned his room and Mom made us do it." Everyone, including their children and mine, got a good laugh at these stories, which seem to be repeated so often.That is not how I remember my childhood. I remember doing the dishes something like five times a day while they brushed their hair or sat in front of the mirror for hours on end putting on their makeup. Being the only boy in the family with two sisters was a difficult experience. I've often wondered if being reared in such circumstances has affected me as an adult.
For instance, Jane was head cheerleader at Gunnison Valley High School. As I grew up I was always known as "Jane Barlow's Little Brother." I never had an identity of my own until she graduated. (At GVHS the seventh-12th grades all attended the same school.) There was one girl I thought was cute and wanted to meet when I was in the seventh grade. I finally got up nerve enough to ask her name. She told me and then asked, "Aren't you Jane Barlow's little brother?" I had to admit I was.
No one knows what it is like to have an older sister for a cheerleader until you've lived through the experience . . . if you can. Jane and the other cheerleaders, Gwenivere Last, Kay Robertson and Fawn Olsen, would get together in our back yard to practice. They obviously didn't have a cheering section so they made me sit on the lawn chair and be it. I didn't know there were so many ways to chant "Go, Bulldogs, Go!" I knew the Bulldog fight song better than any kid in the school. Those songs were drilled into my head so much that even now I sometimes wake up at night in a cold sweat singing "Our Boys Will Shine Tonight." Susan gets annoyed and doesn't seem to understand.
Something else concerns me. When we were little, Jane and Karen would ask me if I wanted to play with them. On occasion I would and then they would make me play "house." Playing "house," I found out, meant dressing up in Mom's old dresses and hats. To this day I live in deathly fear of my masculinity because of those early childhood experiences with my two sisters.
Since Karen was the youngest child in our family I thought she, like the youngest in most families, was the favored one and seemed to get her own way most of the time. I still think even today she has my green dump truck and red ball hidden away somewhere in her closet in Sandy.
As I also recall, it seemed that Karen sometimes wanted to get me in trouble with Mom and Dad. If I did something wrong she would say "Wait until Daddy gets home." He would get home and she would run to him yelling "Daddyeeee, do you know what Brent did today?" Then she would make it three times worse than it really was or make up some things to go along with what I did. Younger sisters seem to do things like that.
Those are just some of the memories of my childhood involving my two sisters. I can't remember either Jane or Karen ever having to clean my room for me or having to take my turn doing the dishes. I just wish they could recall those experiences with the same clarity and insight that I now do.