I am almost always baffled when friends tell me about their siblings: “Well, I love my sister, but we’re just very different.” Or when they tell me that they don’t know their siblings very well — my grandfather and his brother were so estranged that I didn’t even know I had a Great Uncle until after he died. My story with siblings is different, very different.
I am a triplet. Yes, a triplet, one of three boys. Fortunately for the world, we are not identical — we’re enough trouble as it is. I can only imagine my poor mom with three baby triplets, crying out for her at the same time. She says that she had to give all of us equal amounts of attention or else the other two would start crying, and a triplet tantrum is not a pretty sight.
Growing up, we were hellions. It’s not that we fought among ourselves, it was that we acted as a unit, like a Navy SEAL Team, creating mayhem on the most unsuspecting targets. Causing mischief was a favorite pastime, and we gained fame as “The Brooks Brothers.” Our mother likes to say that we brought each other down to the lowest common denominator — we screamed on airplanes, caused scenes during class, and ran around the house giggling in circles before bedtime. Our mother would become so exhausted that she would just give up on trying to corral us into our beds, while our father silently snuck out of bedtime duty and retreated to his own quarters. Scolding us didn’t work, because while we were being scolded for, let’s say, pouring endless glasses of water down the stairs, we would just look at each other’s faces, trying desperately to contain our laughter, only to have it all burst out two seconds later. Life was the biggest and most adventurous game with them by my side.
It’s hard for me to imagine what it would be like to have an older brother to look up to, or a younger brother to take care of. The age gap between most siblings is still hard for me to comprehend. I always had my brothers by my side, and every new experience we experienced together. Without an older sibling to give us advice, we had to figure out life’s questions for ourselves with trial and error — a lot of trial and error.
Because we didn’t have that older influence in our lives, we navigated the experimental teenage years blindly. As much as we loved each other, we had the ability to bring each other down. We always pushed our boundaries, from drug experimentations to sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night. It was easy to justify such acts of mischief — if they were doing it, then it was OK for me to do it too. We pushed each other’s limits, teaching each other what we could and could not handle. We discovered who we were as individuals through those periods of trial and error.
But as we have the capability to bring each other down, we also have the enormous capability to bring each other up. They know me the best, and can speak to me on a level that reaches my core. We teach each other, not only through the various mistakes we make, but the individual accomplishments we achieve. I know that when I see my brothers do something positive and creative with their lives, it inspires me to do the same, and I know that they feel likewise.
We know each other so well that I can tell just by the look on their faces what they are feeling, and vice versa. But even more than that, I know how they would react in certain situations without them even being there. This is the greatest gift that we share: although we still create mischief wherever we go, we always look out for each other, and with the profoundest love, keep each other in line.