Life Lesson #16: Even if they’re a pain when they’re little, siblings often turn out to be A-OK.

At the end of last month, we got some pretty exciting news about my brother.

He’s from another planet and he’s been contacted by his alien family. They’re sending a ship for him at the end of August. This is my farewell post to him. Goodbye, bro. It’s been real.

Ken1

Author’s note: I suck at drawing aliens.

Kidding, kidding! I kid because I love. Kenneth isn’t an alien. No, he’s actually… a full-on, totally rad, 100%, bona fide doctor, yo. Of Philosophy. Doctor of Philosophy. That’s right. You have to call him doctor now.*

And not only that, he’s also going to be a professor down at Dalhousie! OMG! So that is extremely wonderful and I am so incredibly proud of him and happy for him. Kenneth is (and always has been) an terribly smart person. And an all-around nice guy, too.

So, in honor of his amazing achievement, this month is alllll about my favorite sibling and yours, Kenneth.**

Ken2

I’ve told a couple of Kenneth stories in the past, notably on my other blog. Because I’m a lazy blogger, I’m just going to link those suckers right here.

The first one is about how we ran a crooked resort at my grandparent’s house. It was totally awesome and we would’ve made a killing if Poppa ever paid his bill (also, if we ever billed him more than two dollars).

The second one is about how we fought off the evil forces of Beanos, world’s most horrific candy.

And now I shall tell you a brand new tale, one about how Kenneth and his best buddy Warren ruined my chances of ever becoming a petrologist (that’s a rock expert. And yes, I did have to look it up.).

“Today Kenneth and Warren threw my rock collection into the pool guy’s pool. I am SO MAD. The Pool Guy came to our house and Mom was not pleased at all.”

Ken3

According to my mother, this was about 95% my fault. I saw Kenneth and Warren approaching our tree house (where my rock collection was safely and securely stashed in a Food City bag), and I called out, “Don’t throw my rock collection over the fence!” Welp, that sounded like a GREAT idea. Greater still, why not aim for the Pool Guy’s pool?

And that’s where my beautiful rock collection ended up. And it was all fun and games until the Pool Guy showed up at our door.

Kenneth initially feigned ignorance, but came clean when presented with the Pool Guy’s irrefutable argument of, “I saw you and your friend do it.”
Mom was none too pleased.

But c’mon, Pool Guy…what were you thinking? You live in MALVERN, yo. That is why you don’t own a pool in the ‘hood. It’s gonna get full of rocks and dead guys. Fact.

 

Story the second: April Fool’s Day

“I played the BEST joke on Kenneth today. I took Furry out of his cage and quickly put him back in (so Kenneth heard the door open, but I closed it quietly). Then I was sneaky and took a weight off the clock and held it in my hand.
“Oh, Furry!” I said.
“Let me have him,” said Kenneth. I handed him the weight.
“Hey, that’s not Furry!” said Kenneth.
April Fool’s! Ha ha!”

Oh, nine-year-old Jess! Your sense of humor is so incredible! And your comedic timing! Hilarious! It’s a joke for the ages!
Yeah. Not so much. But about Furry! He was the first mammalian pet we had ever owned. Prior to his arrival, we had the dreaded crayfish (for more about that nightmare, click here).
Kenneth and I loved our plethora of pets, minus the crayfish (you can’t truly love anything with antennae and pincers. You just can’t. Maybe I could make a minor exception for Homer Simpson’s lobster, Pinchy, but that’s only because his name was adorable.).

We had…let’s see…the crayfish, Furry, Squeaky, Honey Buttons and Schopenhauer (all hamsters), Sugar and Spice (gerbils), Tweety, Pretty Boy and Polly (all budgies) and YumYum (our guinea pig).

Ken8
And, minus the final two hamsters and Yummy, they’re all buried in a very disturbing pet cemetery next to our old house. With headstones. And some of them are even in metal containers, so that they’re probably still relatively identifiable today!

This has taken a major turn for the creepy.

So, what does this have to do with my brother and I? Uh…it was a learning experience for us! Yes, that will do. We both had to go through the pain of pet ownership together…and…uh…we’re both emotionally scarred due to the short lifespan of each of our pets? We learned that you can love something and let it go? We learned that if you build a Duplo home for your hamster, he’ll chew the crap out of the Duplo and then make it unusable and lethally sharp? We learned that you can teach your gerbils to perform a myriad of tricks if you bribe them with sunflower seeds? We learned that a one-eyed, toothless gerbil can survive for eight months on baby cereal alone? We learned that sometimes budgies just drop dead? Like, every time you have a budgie? We learned that if you bring a young lady hamster near an old decrepit hamster, he finds a new (albeit short) lease on life? We learned that you can still love a guinea pig, even if it’s covered in (harmless but gross) lumps?

Yes. That’s what we learned from owning pets. Also, that we maybe shouldn’t own pets anymore. Mind you, Kenneth presently has a cat and she’s just lovely. Technically, though, his girlfriend Christine adopted the kitty, so maybe the Boyd pet curse is still legit.

Ken9
This is Tanooki. She is adorable.

If Vivi asks for a pet, I think I’ll get her a turtle. They live a long time, they’re pretty darn boring and it’s hard to tell if they’re actually alive or not. Bonus if I need to replace it covertly in the night!

Ken4

 

Story the third: Hardcore goody-goodies, yo.

“Today Kenneth and I sorted all the wash while Mom went shopping and Dad had a nap. We even put it away! When Dad woke up, he was so happy.”

“Kenneth and I made a special Easter egg hunt for our mom and dad.”

“Tonight, Kenneth and I shoveled the driveway for Mom.”

OK, so despite our ‘hood upbringing (or maybe because of it), Kenneth and I were 100%, total, bona fide goodie-goodies. In fact, I think the above three entries (from when I was 7, 8 and 8 respectively), explain completely why my parents were confident in leaving us alone overnight when I was sixteen and Kenneth was fourteen. I mentioned this to my mother and she said, “Well, we didn’t go overseas until you were seventeen.”

Let’s just think about that for a second: leaving your seventeen year old and fifteen year old totally alone, by themselves, for multiple days (I think it was ten days) while you gallivant around the world.

How many people would really do that for reals? My parents did. I believe, when I mentioned it at the time, that my mother said something along the lines of “What the hell are the two of you going to get up to? Are you going to invite your band friends over and play a concerto? Bust out the Mozart? Is your brother going to invite his friends over for computer games and root beer? Yeah, I think everything will be fine.”

OK, so whatever. I was a gigantic band geek and Kenneth was far too lazy to organize a social event.

But we COULD have. Theoretically.

Except that I knew what other people’s house parties turned out to be like (hint: the house was trashed and they were in serious trouble and usually the cops were called) and I didn’t want none of that business all up in my hizz-ouse.

Also, for these three reasons, primarily:

1. I don’t want to clean barf off of anything. House party = serious teenage drinking. I don’t want your puke anywhere near my stuff. I had a rule, when I was the permanent designated driver: if you feel sick, say something. If you throw up in my car, I throw you out the door. Done, no questions asked. Harsh? Yes. But everyone knew I was for real and my car stayed puke-free.

2. We lived in the ‘hood. That means someone might possibly get shot at your party. Bad times, right there.

3. We were too busy volunteering (me) and playing Magic (Kenneth) and programming the computer (Kenneth) and generally being huge nerds (both, really).

Ken7

The most ‘trouble’ we ever got into while my parents were abroad was when I came back from attending a friend’s funeral and totally didn’t have any keys with me. Kenneth had been at his friend’s house and had locked the door as he left. We had several locks on the door, and one of them was a push-button one. You didn’t need a key to lock it, just to open it. So Kenneth figured I had keys, I figured he had keys…and actually, neither of us did.

When I arrived home, Kenneth was waiting for me. When we realized our predicament, I knew there was only one way in: through my bedroom window. It was my ultimate nightmare come true. I always knew that theoretically, you could climb atop our deck’s roof and shimmy over to my window, hack through the screen with a barbecue skewer, open the window and climb on in.

Ken6

And that day, in front of many curious neighbours, I proved that I was indeed correct. And I slept with one eye open until the day we left the ‘Vern.

It wasn’t the first time I had entered a home through a window, though. And I am sure it won’t be the last.***

 

Story the fourth: Kenneth saves my birthday (from lameness)

“Today was my 12th birthday. It was great! I finally had a surprise party (even though I kind of guessed it was happening). My friends all came and Kenneth dressed up as a fortune teller and told fortunes in a southern accent.”

Ah, yes. The indomitable Kendini. I believe that was his name. I just remember that he predicted fame, fortune and awesome boyfriends for all of my gal pals. They just loved him. (I mean, they loved him anyway. Kenneth was ridiculously endearing as a kid. He wasn’t the bratty little brother lots of people have to put up with.)

I loved having some kind of entertainment at the party other than the usual “nothing” my mother would plan (unlike birthday cakes, parties weren’t her strong suit. Usually, she tried to convince us to just have them at lunch on a school day. The kids would come over at 12:05, we would eat Kraft Dinner and watch the Flintstones on TV. We’d snarf some cake, open gifts and be back at school by the 1:15 bell. Done and done, no games or entertainment needed.).

So, in conclusion, Kenneth is a pretty awesome dude. He always has been. He’s been my minion, my sidekick, my mental superior and the kid I liked playing with most as we grew up. I’m so proud to be his sister, and so proud of what he’s accomplished.

Now send him a congratulatory beer. You know you want to.

 

* You don’t really have to, but if you don’t, it’ll cost you a beer.

**Maybe he’s not your favorite sibling. But he should be.

***The first time I entered a house through the window was in Ottawa. We had been at my nana’s and we had returned to my grandparents’ house to find the place locked up tight. We had no key, but there was a ladder next to the open bathroom window (c’mon in, burglars!). My parents decided that they were too large to fit, and Kenneth was too young, so it was all on four-year-old me. Dad took me up the ladder and hoisted me through the window, into the bathroom. That’s where I saw all the blood. So apparently Gramma had nearly sliced her finger off on her sewing table and my aunt had taken her to the hospital. I managed to figure out how to get the side door open to let the fam in, and then proceeded to grab a handful of Smarties and curl up in front of the TV to watch a few hours of mind-rotting cartoons to try and prevent this from becoming a permanent and traumatic childhood memory. Which, evidently, didn’t work so well after all.

 

 

 

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