FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH
|“Dear Zoe (from your big sis)”||
|By: Emmy Brounes||
Sorry this note has been so late in coming. Dad has been planning to write you since October 21, but keeps blaming all of his procrastinations on “sleep deprivation.” Apparently, you cry quite a bit in the middle of the night, but I’m such a sound sleeper, you never disturb me at all. (Frankly, I think Dad is a somewhat of a complainer.) In reality, I am probably best suited to welcome you to the world anyway as I have “been there, done that” for about everything you will experience over the next few days, weeks, months, and years. I’ve seen Mom and Dad at their best and worst, know exactly what buttons to push and when, and usually end up getting pretty much what I want. (“Spoiled” has such a negative connotation.) Therefore, I volunteered to enlighten you on the ways of the world, what to expect as a Brounes, what is expected of you, and, most importantly, what you can get away with. After four years, I’ve learned to work the system pretty well. (At Mom and Dad’s advanced ages, it’s generally easier for them just to give in.)
Needless to say, I had pretty mixed emotions when I heard about your impending arrival. I’ve pretty much had the run of the joint for the past four years and wasn’t quite sure how things would change once you graced us with your presence. You should know that I really wanted a brother (or, at the very least, a puppy) and held out hope until we finally met. Frankly, I don’t care much for girly things and prefer superheroes, bad guys, whoopee cushions, and rough and tumble activities to princesses and dolls any day. I am the consummate Tomboy in every way. I practically failed out of ballet class and don’t plan to wear that ridiculous tutu ever again. On Halloween, I dressed as Darth Vader (you may not remember since you were only 10 days old and were wearing my old embarrassing pumpkin outfit) and I also have Iron Man and Swiper the Fox costumes in my closet. Get ready for a life of hand-me-downs (sorry about that pumpkin). In reality, you will hit the jackpot (assuming you are a girly girl) as I refuse to wear dresses or anything pink or purple (though still get them as gifts from unknowing friends and relatives) so most of what you inherit will still have their tags on them. You see, I’ve been dating this dude from school (not exclusively) for over a year now and I get all my good tastes, fashion sense, and cool interests from him. In any case, you’ve grown on me over the past few weeks and I decided I don’t want to trade you in for a brother after all (though a puppy is a different story).
Though I give them a hard time every chance I get, Mom and Dad are great and I think you will be pleased with them as well. (Just follow my lead and let me teach you the ropes.) Mom is a ton of fun and we always have a great time playing games, reading books, working puzzles, baking cookies, and watching The Bachelorette. (By the way, does anyone know if Ali and Roberto are still together? My boyfriend said it would never last, but he is usually wrong when it comes to matters of the heart.) Mom gave up hope early that I would suddenly become girly and now is quite well-versed in the ways of Superman and Star Wars. Occasionally, I throw her a bone and agree to dress in something “cutesy” (never a dress), and then I usually get to wear Spiderman, Buzz Lightyear, or my scary skeleton t-shirt for several days in a row. Mom makes a great cinnamon-chocolate milkshake and a little carefully-placed praise generally gets me dessert every few nights. Frankly, she loves sweets as well and is usually happy to share this passion (and a milkshake) with me. At the end of the day, Mom rarely gets stressed out and is not prone to give in to periodic (maybe more) whiney requests easily so I have to pick my battles with her.
Dad, on the other hand, is a pushover in the truest sense. We have a great time together and I love to yank his chain, watch him lose his cool, and then quickly apologize at the first sign of my (fake) tears. Together we make up silly songs and fun stories, build towering structures out of magnets, and play soccer for hours in the front yard. Many dads let their kids win at early ages, but I’m pretty sure I’m just more athletic and already better at most sports than him. He is quick to let me eat cookies for breakfast, brush my teeth in bed, and stay up well past my bedtime. (He is a sucker for the “just one more story…please.”) His favorite expression is “don’t tell Mommy” and I am getting better at keeping such secrets (especially if it means potato chips right before dinner). He is a huge worrier and contemplates a call to the doctor at the first sign of a sneeze. While he loves his sports and relishes the times I sit on the couch and catch a game (or better yet take one in at Minute Maid or Rice Stadium), I think he secretly enjoys watching The Berenstain Bears even more than UT football these days. (Can you blame him after this past season?)
And then there’s Mamaw (Grandma Brounes). She is the absolute best. In her eyes, we can do no wrong and she simply can’t understand how Dad ever complains about our behavior. She brings me gifts for no apparent reason at all. Last week, I got some stickers just because it was Wednesday, I guess. (But I’m not complaining.) She talks about how Pop would have loved playing with his young “Queens” and I wish we would have had the chance to get to know him. These days, Mamaw’s sidekick is SheShe (Cousin Sherry) and she is tons of fun as well. My favorite activity is a sleepover at Aunt Tootie’s and Uncle Steve’s house. We play with the dogs, stay up late watching movies, work on the computer, and have a good ol time all the way around. The only downside is I have to be on my best behavior over there because they don’t fall for any of my shenanigans and are far stricter when it comes to eating and bedtime. Then again, I always know I can turn back into my same old whiney self once I get back home with Dad. I have no doubt that you’ll get the Jekyll-Hyde routine down pretty quickly as well.
Every year we travel to Florida to see Mom’s family and I get some quality bonding time with the Hachenburg ladies: Grandma Libby, Aunt Candy, Aunt Becky. They provide a full year’s worth of spoiling all in one weekend and, because it coincides with the holidays, that means presents o’ plenty. Usually we spend one night painting each others’ nails, the one girly girl activity I still enjoy. Uncles Rich and Mark are taking a greater interest in playing with me now that I’ve become a tomboy; I just have to pretend to be a Dolphins fan in order to get their attention. I hear great stories about Grandpa Walter from everyone and Dad tells me that he and Pop have become good friends in heaven and are having fun watching us grow up. I can’t wait to travel with you and think we will have a great time cutting up on the plane and watching Dad’s fear of heights kick in at the first sign of turbulence. (He turns the most beautiful shade of greenish-blueish.) I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Gaga (Gloria the nanny) who is one of the most important people in our lives. She holds the key to our daytime activities and I’ve learned how to play her pretty well to my advantage. She acts tough in front of Mom and Dad, but once they leave for the day, we pretty much run the show. Gaga has become friends with all the neighborhood nannies and schedules countless play dates to keep us entertained. She also finds other fun activities for us like story-time at the library. I am positive Gaga will be one of your favorite people.
Life is pretty good in the Brounes household. My listening and sharing skills need improvement, though a well-timed “I’m sorry” usually limits the damages (until next time). I also am expected to clean up my toys now, though I have found that if I pick up the first one, Gaga will finish the job. I know I need to work on my diet at some point, though Dad has no room to complain as our eating habits are pretty similar (grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, pizza, hot dogs). From watching you down countless bottles of milk daily, something tells me you will be a better eater than me. In any case, welcome to the family, Baby Sis. Watch, listen, and learn. I love you…Emmy.