Thursday, May 8, 2014

Pooj grows up

My youngest brother, Bo.

Happy birthday little brother

Eighteen years ago today my youngest brother was born. He was a stubby little thing back then, with fiery red hair and pale, freckled cheeks. I would call him “Poogie,” or “Pooj” for short because he was a round, little jellybean as a toddler. He loved it, I’m sure.

I had already been an older brother twice before Pooj, but each time it was different for me. My sister was too close in age for me to remember graphically, and when my first brother was born I was five and just excited to have a baby brother to play ninjas with (no offense sis, you tried).

By the time Pooj entered the equation, I was already nine and well on my way to becoming a starter in the NFL…or a fighter jet pilot…or possibly a Power Ranger. Whatever the case, I already knew how to be a big brother. I knew that babies were not good at war games, that they did not sleep at night, and that all they did was make messes, smell, and get all the attention. Despite the obstacles though, I fell right in line with the rest of my family adoring the little tyke.

My sister, no doubt, had the best time with him as a baby. She would dress him in doll clothes when he was old enough and make him play house. She may even have tricked him into holding (gnawing) on Barbies at one point...

As Pooj got older, he tried more and more to emulate not only me but my friends as well. While I was in high school, my friends were always welcome at the house, and Pooj was beginning to form his own personality and thus relationships with them. They got a kick out of him having opinions on football and knowing how to play the same video games. It was a win-win for all of us because my little brother wasn’t going away and neither were my friends. In a lot of ways, it’s like he grew up with a bunch of extra brothers.

In fact, as he got older I credit a lot of his adaptability to the fact he was exposed to more as a child than I ever was. He would come to visit me at college each summer for about a week and get to see new places and people. The same was true for him visiting my sister and my other brother, making it far less puzzling what the term “college town” actually meant at an early age. Compare this to me, the oldest brother, who had a very narrow concept of what I was getting into upon high school graduation.

After getting his acceptance letter to UW Oshkosh
But enough about me, today is his birthday.

In recent years, it has been a privilege to be living close and spending more time with him again. We’ve bonded over new things like music, working out, and Fantasy Football. Further still, he’s become an exemplary uncle and friend. As he has been preparing for college, we’ve all gotten to see him grow and change and make life decisions, and I continue to be impressed by his resilience and attitude towards life.

While he’s no longer the hyper little kid I remember from back then, and the nickname Pooj seems like an artifact from a lifetime ago, he’s still my youngest sibling, and I can’t help but get a bit choked up seeing him all grown up and about to graduate high school. I want to tell him how proud I am of all his accomplishments, how happy he has made so many people. I want to tell him to be fearless, and brave, and open to the new stage of life he’s about to enter. I want to tell him no matter where life takes him, and no matter how hard he falls down, that his family will be there to pick him back up. And more importantly, that we all trust him to do the same for us. Welcome to adulthood, little brother.

See you out there,
A woodsman in training.

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