The Female Older Sibling Unit Chronicles, or: why, you ask, is my face twitching?

The Male Sibling Unit and I braved the mist of a particularly soggy morning today, and walked up the hill to collect small stones for my garden footpath creations. I’m making some decorative, flat discs fashioned out of concrete, and needed some interesting little stones and pebbles to decorate them with. I found a wonderful piece of slate that had been run over by a car and broke apart in a perfect mosaic of a rose. I can’t wait to paint and place it.

The Male Sibling Unit was notified, last night, that he will, in fact, be competing in the Swim Meet at the State Special Olympics next week. He had been told he was an alternate about three weeks ago, but the head of our county committee called me on Wednesday to let me know that The Male Sibling Unit would be going. I was waiting for the congratulatory letter to hand him. Ever since he found out he probably wouldn’t be going, he has made life very difficult. He lacks the ability to see outside of his own wants and desires; you might call it selfish narcissism, but I simply refer to it as The Way He Is. He can no more help it than I can make it FUCKING STOP RAINING. I blame the committee that chooses the participants; there used to be a hard and fast rule that competitors could not go every, single year; they would alternate, attending every OTHER year. This allowed all the participants a chance to enjoy three days of competition and fun at Penn State, where the State Special Olympics are held every year. It was a more than fair process. For whatever reason – maybe lack of participants, although I seriously doubt that – The Male Sibling Unit has been attending “States”, as we refer to it, every year for at least a decade. He has competed in track and field as well as swimming, and even bowled a couple of times. The past 5 years have been exclusively for swimming, because his legs swell due to the diabeetus. He’s amazing in the water, where his strongest category is the backstroke.

Nature is a funny fucking duck; she gifts in areas when she takes away in others. He may lack the ability to reason in an advanced way, but I’ll bet he can beat your ass swimming. You want him and not David Hasselhoff saving your ass if you find yourself drowning, because The Male Sibling Unit is true Baywatch material. The Hoff was probably using a stunt double.

Anyway, The Male Sibling Unit has been giddy as fuck ever since his coach messaged him, and I truly want to fart in her general direction or do something offensive to let her know that I am not pleased that she let the cat out of the bag. Not only did she ruin my surprise when the letter came, but now, instead of maybe 2 swift days of deliriously happy babbling and text messages and oral list-making and constant interjections about States into every conversation and when I say “every” I mean every – even if it happens to be about explosive diarrhea or an upcoming colonoscopy – I shall now be treated to 5 days of deliriously happy babbling and text messages and oral list-making and constant interjections about States into every conversation. Did I mention constant?

Don’t get me wrong: I am really happy for him. He absolutely loves participating, and as he is 44 now, there probably aren’t many years of competition left. I love that he can be with his friends, and make new ones, and be enveloped in the magic that is a Special Olympics event. It is a truly beautiful thing to see individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities shining brightly and taking part in a camaraderie with other competitors and the volunteers who are so awesome. They are stars; every, single one.

I was just hoping to not lose my shit and explode with frank and genuine exhaustion before he leaves and I am treated to three glorious days of peace and quiet; Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The fact that The Husband has Friday and Saturday off is even more exciting.

We can eat steak without me having to prepare a different kind of meat for The Male Sibling Unit because he choked on a piece once, ten years ago, and is now quite adamant that he will choke again if subjected to its deliciousness. When he sees me place steaks in the shopping cart, the interrogations begin:

“What am I gonna eat?”

“I’m gonna have hamburger patties, right?”

“You could get me cube steak.”

“I don’t know what I can eat.”

We can jump in the car and take a short trip, just us, which doesn’t happen very often, and not have to worry about blood sugar readings.

We can have loud sex without the risk of an interrogation the next day (“What were you yelling about when I was in my room watching The Price is Right last night?”) or even worse, PeeWee Herman-like laughter coming from upstairs at an, ummm… crucial moment.

More than likely, we will simply spend three days breathing, with an occasional “Hope he’s having fun” interjected here and there. It will go quickly, that three days of peace, and then The Male Sibling Unit will return, triumphantly, with whatever medals he has won. There are always a couple and last year, there was gold.

So yeah, only 2 days of nervous prep was preferrable to 5, because by the end of 5, I am a gigantic ball of nervous, bajiggity twitch, likely exploding once or twice (or a dozen) times with

“Could we PLEASE talk about something else?”

or

“For the last time, YES you can pack your suitcase Wednesday.”

or

“No, I do not need to tell you what I’m going to be up to while you’re gone.”

or

“Yes, yes, yes, I hope you get the gold AGAIN and become THE TWO-TIME GOLD MEDAL CHAMPION.”

Time apart is good for the both of us. I use it to recharge and resolve to be a better sister, and I hope he uses it to remember that I’m the only sister he’s got.

Oh, who am I kidding?

He’ll return to interrogate me with demands for a play-by-play of our activities while he was gone and assurances we did, indeed “miss him”. He will investigate the cupboards, the fridge, and the freezer for new groceries he can plunder, and his hawk-like attention to detail will ferret out ANY addition to the house, be it a new rag rug in the bathroom or a new coffee cup from the Dollar Tree.

Finally, he will ask when his “celebration dinner” will commence – because we reward even a bronze or a fourth place ribbon with a special meal.

Alas, it won’t be steak. But it will likely be bangers and mash. At least it won’t be fish sticks or chicken tenders. I’ve successfully trained his pallet to request fancier food, even if it does come in tube-like form.

Here’s to hoping that the next 4.5555896 days don’t result in high blood pressure and an ER visit because I am sure all the blood vessels in my head have exploded.

It isn’t always a goddamn picnic.

The Male Sibling Unit has been inconvenienced AF today, much to his irritation.

*GASP* I asked him to accompany me to the post office to mail a package and then, adding insult to injury, I asked him to help me carry stuff home from the grocery store. This threw his “schedule” off about 10 minutes total (Oh FUCK, there’s a SKIP-BO tournament at STEPS today!!) The needling, angry comments persisted until – in a fit of anger as I watched my last fuck drift off, like a helium-filled balloon into the sky – I LOST MY SHIT.

In the middle of a street. A dead one, thank Christ.

In gravely quiet tones (Clint Eastwood has nothing on me) I took my stance and warned him that if he spoke one more word – just one, or even a fragment of one – I would NOT be replying and furthermore, I would take immediate, consequential action upon arriving home. Go ahead, Punk: make my day.

The Male Sibling Unit blinked, perhaps not understanding me. “Why?” he managed to ask, uncertain as to why I would want to refrain from reacting or replying to his witty repartee and chiding banter and irritating-as-fuck declarations of obstinate fury because oh my fucking god, SKIP-BO STARTS AT 2PM AND IT IS 1:42PM.

I countered his why with “Why should I listen to you say things that just piss me off? Does it make you happy to ignore me when I ask you to stop and does it thrill you to upset me? Hmmm? Does that delight you?” Now I was channeling Jack Nicholson’s Joker and not Dirty Harry.

Something in my tone, or on my face, seemed to actually connect with him, and he replied quietly, and with mild surprise, “No, it doesn’t.”
We resumed our walk and the rest of the trip home was blissfully silent.

And then, like a light switch being flipped, he resumed with the attitude as soon as we closed the door behind us. The walk to the community center takes him about 5 minutes, so getting there on time, or maybe just a minute or two late, wasn’t going to be a problem.

The Male Sibling Unit apparently doesn’t grasp the meaning of “self-sabotage” and so he commenced to do just that with flawless execution. 10s across the board, folks! I asked him to bring his cat’s dish down from his room so I could fill it. I listened, overhead, as he walked into the bathroom at least three times, back into his room, slamming the door, and then, as I stood with the cat food mixed, and ready to go into the bowl, he came down the stairs…..empty-handed. He stood on the landing and asked, with the fakest innocence dripping from his voice that I have ever heard, “Do you need Ragnar’s dish?”

Dirty Harry returned, once again. Or maybe a combination of him and the “Get off my lawn” character Eastwood portrayed with such realism. I was getting tired of this.

“Did I ask you to bring it down?” I menaced, digging my nails into the palm of my hand so as to not slap the piss out of him. If ever there was a moment in which I deserved the Medal of Freedom – since apparently the requirements are much more relaxed now – it was this one. Tiger Woods got one for much, much less.

“Well YEAH. Duh.”

Again, I beseech you: am I not the most worthy of the Medal of Freedom? I ask this because The Male Sibling Unit is still alive; I didn’t punch him in his large schnozz or Gibbs-slap the gray matter out of his bald head. I growled at him, when he returned with the bowl, “Take this to Ragnar and then get the fuck out of my sight.” The Male Sibling Unit stomped back up to his room, shouting, “I’m NOT GOING. I’m STAYING HOME.”

This, right here, is a prime example of what I encounter almost every day with The Male Sibling Unit because of his intellectual impairment. I share with you the funny stuff, the sweet stuff, and most of you think that life with The Male Sibling Unit must be one hilarious conversation or incident after another. It must leave me feeling so blessed.

I do. I am. But days like this are the norm, and days like this, I don’t talk about. Maybe I should. Maybe I do him a great disservice by making it seem as if he is a barrel of laughs and his hysterical antics are a constant source of delight for me. Sure, there are many, but he is, after all, human. He has bad days, too. And he has less ability to cope with them than others do, and so it falls upon me to “manage” those moods, and outbursts, and angry moments when he bites his hand or hits the wall or slams a broom handle into the screen of his television (true fucking story), shattering it. Most of the time, and especially when his schedule deviates just a millimeter off course, The Male Sibling Unit is a 6 year-old trapped in the body of a diabetic, hyperthyroid-encumbered 44 year-old man. It is hard. Hard for me to remain the Zen-like, big sister who has in truth been his mother figure since he was a baby. Hard for him to control the narcissism that is as much a part of him as his eye color.

Maybe I don’t always handle such moments with the patience and grace that I should. Today, certainly, was not my best moment. All I could think about was that if I didn’t get him out of my sight, I might lose my shit again, and wake The Husband up with my Banshee screech. He worked all night; hearing me Channel My Mother would not be the best way to be awakened.

“The FUCK you ARE,” I shouted after The Male Sibling Unit as he stomped up the stairs. “Feed the cat and GO TO STEPS.”

He practically ran out the door, tossing a meek “See ya later” at me as he breezed past.

Glass of wine mid-afternoon? Why, I do think I will.

Lifestyles of the fat and lazy

I have had waffles two days in a row.

I know, random, right? But….is it? Of course not. Random stays in my head most of the time, and I do like to have a decent idea about where I see the direction going when I write. Mostly. Except when I have no freaking clue, and vomitus spills out all over these pages. They can be entertaining regurgitations, but the fact remains: they can be crap.

So yes, back to the waffles. I had them two days in a row, which is not something I tend to do. Blueberry, frozen, popped into the toaster; don’t judge me on the frozen, because I like them. I have never found myself desiring homemade waffles; not even when the husband announced that he wanted a waffle maker for Christmas one year and we went to Voldemort on Black Friday, which was actually Crimson Thursday because it was Thanksgiving and blood spilled in the aisles that year due to angry parents dive bombing for Monster High dolls. By the way? I think he used it exactly once, and now I haven’t a clue where it is. All that sacrifice for one, measly homemade waffle breakfast.

An unrealistic representation of my waffles.

I have two boxes of those blueberry waffles in the freezer, and I feel compelled to make them disappear. You see, this family is embarking on a high protein, veggie, low-carb diet.

Wait, I used the wrong word. “Diet” is indeed a four-letter word in both the literal sense and in my mind. When you say “diet” it conjures up sacrifice, misery; a carrot stick and a wilted celery stalk in a Tupperware dish for lunch. With no ranch dip. It says, plainly, “You are a fatass who makes poor eating choices and your arteries look more like stuffed pizza crust than veins.”

That last statement could be true. I do love my pizza and I will never say no to stuffed crust. I often ponder why it took so long for someone to figure out that you could roll mozzarella sticks into crust and make what is the perfect meal even better. I feel like my childhood and early adulthood were cheated by the lack of stuffed crust being readily available. Denied. I feel like maybe others feel the same way, and we should form a support group. We have PSCTSD. You can figure that acronym out yourself, right?

Alright, so “diet” isn’t what we’re doing. We are making a Lifestyle Change. I think it’s a smart one, although my heart of hearts is crying at the thought of cutting out bread and pastry. At least I can keep the cheese, and we will have “cheat nights” twice a week. That will alleviate the idea of giving up things we love, and it will also help to placate The Male Sibling Unit.

Let’s face it: the three of us are getting older. I will be 51 and the husband is days away from 47. We both could benefit from healthier eating and we both love carbs. Taking them entirely away seems like a fate worse than death, but giving in two days a week for the love of breads, pastas, and starchy potatoes seems fair and balanced. It makes that death sentence more like, well….a work week. We can do it. If I throw a large enough chunk of meat at the husband, he will happily dig in and clean up the smaller serving of something plant-based. Getting him to eat fruits will be trickier, because he doesn’t like many. If I throw too many bananas his way, he may start scratching himself in public and grunting at me. Wait…..

Not my husband.

I have broken the news to the Male Sibling Unit. The best description I can use about the look on his face was fear. When dealing with the Male Sibling Unit, potentially unattractive prospects and limitations need to be dressed up a bit. With cheerful, optimistic, exciting exclamations that “This will be GREAT!” and “It’s ALL to help YOU!” If you make it all about him, and direct it toward every single aspect being to make him even more fantastic than he already is, he usually buys it hook, line, and sinker. That narcissism in his personality has its place. I really hope it comes in handy at age 50, when the doctor tells him it’s time for his first colonoscopy. I imagine it going something like this:

“Guess what? It’s your lucky day! Your colon is has been chosen for an important award! We want to take some pictures of it! That’s right; you get to drink a bunch of Gatorade (yep, we’ll go with that) and then you can poop as much as you want and your sister won’t yell at you for stinking up the bathroom! Then, you get to be our personal guest at an all-inclusive nap session at the hospital! That’s right! A nap! You won’t even feel the camera going in your butt! Yes! You heard me right! Your butt is SO SPECIAL that we want to take pictures of the inside and publish them on Facebook! And then your sister will take you to McDonald’s for a Filet O’ Fish!”

The Facebook thing, yeah, I made up. The point is, he loves all eyes on him and if he thinks it will push him up the flagpole of popularity, he’ll be all for it. Therefore. I needed to make this Lifestyle Change all about him. We are so invested in his overall health and his glucose readings that we have decided to work together as a team. It’s all in the name of the Male Sibling Unit’s ultimate success and triumph over diabetes.

He almost bought it. For a moment, there was a glimmer of excitement and a flash of self-importance. And then he asked, “What about peanut butter sandwiches?” The Male Sibling Unit’s fondness for peanut butter sandwiches can be traced back to his toddler years, when he loved them so much that he refused to swallow them, tucking numerous bites up into the roof of his mouth in a gesture of sentimentality that would then force my mother to pry the gummy, sticky mess out of there. The Male Sibling Unit is not so much a picky eater as he is a picky swallower. Therein lies a little bit of difficulty in getting him to embrace a high-protein diet. There will be meat, and lots of it, and I am not a creature of habit when it comes to eating the same thing, day after day, so I will want to switch things up a lot in order to keep this Lifestyle Change interesting. To be blunt, the Male Sibling Unit is lazy as fuck, and things that require a ton of chewing don’t rank high on his list of favorites. In the last two years, the Heimlich Maneuver has had to be administered because he has tried to swallow a piece of beef whole. Now? We avoid steak for him, because he is afraid of it. Not pork, or chicken; just steak. As a matter of fact, I am convinced that if I were to tell him that the piece of beef on his plate is actually pork, he would not choke. Am I suggesting that he swallowed that beef on purpose so he would choke and passive-aggressively teach me a lesson; that the Male Sibling Unit is not a fan of steak?

Damn skippy I am.

See what I did there?

Anyway, I laid the cards out on the table for him; I would make sure he has yummy, exciting lunches for work that do not include bread. Twice a week, he can eat sandwiches. He is free to eat peanut butter on celery or apple slices or bananas or by the spoonful if he wants. Just not slathered on 4 slices of bread, 7 days a week anymore. Yes, there will be meat, but it will be soft meat, tender meat, and we will eat loads of yummy, fresh veggies and fruits that will good for him. He will be in THE BEST SHAPE OF HIS LIFE. His glucose numbers will stabilize! He will have more energy! And the chicks dig it!

Perhaps I made that up, too, but he likes it when the chicks dig him.

2 Minutes to Midnight (Sing it with me, Iron Maiden fans!)

I do believe that the Male Sibling Unit is actively seeking to set my personal Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight. To hell with the committee that oversees the world’s Doomsday Clock, which is just a metaphor for the fact that we, as a planet, are in the shit and it’s all because the United States has a turnip for a President and the Congress is the puppet master of said turnip. There is no real “Doomsday Clock” but I imagine that if it existed, it would be pretty scary looking and it would be located somewhere in Germany. That Doomsday Clock is the least of my worries right now.

dooms

How the Doomsday Clock is depicted.

dooms1

How I see the Doomsday Clock. Not to be confused with the Monstrance Clock.

My own sprang a spring or broke a gear or something on Friday, when I discovered that The Male Sibling Unit is continuing to rush his own demise by eating sugar-laden food on the sly. The fact that his disability makes it impossible for him to truly be sly is the only saving grace in the situation. Most diabetics who try to hide their verboten sugar intake do so sneakily, like my mother used to. I will never forget the day my first husband walked into our kitchen after taking her to work in her car in order to bring it back home to do some repairs on it. In his mitts was a crumpled-up ball of empty bakery bags from the local supermarket. He had found this debris stuffed underneath her driver’s seat when he released the seat back to make way for his legs. We untangled the bags and found that there were four. When he confronted her (I did not dare, or my Doomsday Clock would have been set back then, in 1998) she became defensive, of course, and basically told him in no uncertain terms that he was not the boss of her. Actually, I think her exact words were “Fuck off” but I can’t quite remember and I sure as hell am not going to ask him, because then my Doomsday Clock will be set to one minute to midnight and possibly I will risk self-combustion right then. I swear, that woman sneaked sugar up until the day she died. I know that the doctor told me she was essentially brain dead the day she passed, but I really think she probably had a stash of Snickers bars somewhere underneath her sheets or stuffed under the mattress. The woman was tenacious AF.

The Male Sibling Unit has his own special products that I buy him to stave off his incessant, unrelenting desire for sugar. I buy him Splenda packets for his cereals, sugar-free candy, sugar-free cookies, jams, gum; you name it. If it can be procured in sugar-free form, he has it. I also watch his carb intake and even allow him actual sugar on occasion, simply to give him the sense that he isn’t foregoing every, single thing that he loves. He tests his blood sugar three times a day and we adjust his insulin injections accordingly. He attends workshops on diabetes and diabetes clinics. Everyone in his realm is invested in his personal diabetes experience. Since he’s so into himself, it would make perfect sense that he would want to walk the walk and talk the talk, because much praise is offered when his A1C levels are lower and his tests are good. He eats that shit up as enthusiastically as he does peanut butter brownies.

Alas, I was wrong to assume that. This is proven to me over and over again, as he continues to hoard food (a lifelong practice) and stuff plain, white bread down his gullet and eat jams bought for the non-diabetics in this house and sneak gulps of my Coca Cola and then put it back, thinking that I will not notice that an unopened bottle has, in fact, been opened, and not by the husband, who detests Coke. Guess what, fucker? I noticed when I grabbed it out of the fridge and opened it, expecting to hear that satisfyingly fresh hisssssss as the vacuum seal let loose, and heard…..nothing. That soda was as flat as my tits before I got pregnant the first time.

dooms2

If the Male Sibling Unit was caught red-handed. Also, if the Male Sibling Unit was a Female Sibling Unit.

I’m not complaining about caring for him. Okay, so it sounds like I am, but I’m actually just blowing off steam. Caring for him has been a journey I willingly and enthusiastically took on from the moment we knew that he was always going to need looking after. I can still remember, with perfect clarity, standing in front of my 5th grade teacher, the dashing and charismatic Mr. Horovitz, who was quietly demanding that I tell him why I wanted to drop off the crossing guard detail.

Being a crossing guard, or “Patrol”, as we called it then, was a very big honor and responsibility. One was chosen by a committee of teachers at the conclusion of the 4th grade. Throughout 5th and 6th grade, one had the awesome responsibility of arriving at school early and putting on a strap with a badge, grabbing a flag pole, and heading out to a designated corner in our neighborhood to cross the other students, assuring their safety across streets as they trekked to school. We did this in the morning, at lunch time, and after school. We were rewarded for our service with a trip to Washington, DC at the end of 6th grade. You just couldn’t do any better than this when you were in grade school. I was a Patrol, and when my mother had broken down at the kitchen table in 1977, after being given The Male Sibling Unit’s diagnosis (Severe Mental Retardation with Autism sprinkled in for effect, never to advance any farther intellectually past a 4th grade level) I had sat on this information for a long while. I was already heavily invested in my role as The Big Sister, imagining things like turning 16 and picking him up after school in my convertible Camaro and impressing all his friends. The fact that we were dirt fucking poor and on welfare and that I would never own a car at 16, much less learn to drive then because at that point, we no longer had a car, escaped my juvenile daydreams. I was going to take him for ice cream and buy him stuff and be the coolest sister ever. Most of all, I was going to protect him. When the diagnosis came down, I realized, immediately, that protecting him was going to be at the top of the list now. I saw how people treated the kids with disabilities, and called them names, and were generally just cruel. There was no fucking way on earth that I was going to let anyone make fun of my brother or call him a “retard”. As a matter of fact, my mother had forbidden that word to be uttered from the moment she found out he was handicapped. I knew I had to be the front line to his safety, because I spent the most time with him. A big sister had to protect her sibling.

My mother was a mess after the diagnosis. She spent every moment at the kitchen table, crying, smoking, listening to the radio, writing letters, and many times, I would find her with her head cradled in her arms. Her love for me had been cut off at the knees by then, and all I received was an occasional bark commanding me to “Take your brother with you” when I would go somewhere after school or on weekends. Instinctively, I knew she needed help. What could I do, though? I needed to do something to help her. That’s when the idea formulated in my head: I would give up Patrol, freeing up an extra hour in the morning and at night, and be there for her, and for my brother. I remember writing my resignation on a piece of paper and quietly placing it on Mr. Horovitz’s desk at the beginning of the school day. Just before lunch time, he called me to his desk. He was holding my resignation, and he asked me why I wanted to resign. I had not told anyone about my brother; I didn’t want anyone to laugh or make fun of him or even worse, feel sorry for me. I was ridiculously proud and stubborn even then. My whole life was made up of secrets; no one knew that my dad was actually a well-respected businessman in the community who had carried on an affair with my mother that produced two children, or that we were on welfare. That stuff was nobody’s business then, and was of little importance to young kids anyway. Having a mentally handicapped brother was of interest, though, and never in a good way. There was no fucking way I was going to let anyone mess with him, and I wasn’t ready to reveal it to even my best friends. I didn’t expect what happened with my teacher, though. In retrospect, his heart was in the right place, but I wish he had done what he did in a different, more private way.

He waited for my response. I shifted, uneasily, from foot to foot. “I just need to.” was all I could manage to say.

“I’m sorry, Lori, but that isn’t a good enough reason. Please, tell me why.” He was not going to relent.

“Because.” I said, quietly. Because, you fuckwit. Don’t ask me these questions. I don’t want to tell you.

Another student stood beside me, waiting for his attention. I was hoping he would accept my resignation and then move on to her request, whatever it was. But nope. He was adamant. “You’re not sitting down until you give me a good reason for quitting Patrol.” I knew this guy. He wasn’t kidding. My resolve was slipping, and I knew that the next step was going to be calling my mother. Then I would be in deep shit. I didn’t even realize that there were tears running down my cheeks until Mr. Horovitz asked me why I was crying. I managed to speak, quietly, as I cried. “I have to quit to help take care of my little brother. He’s mentally retarded. We just found out. My mom needs me to help her.” He was silent, his face registering a surprise I had never seen before. He looked down. I stood proudly, my insides quaking, because I knew the little fuckstick next to me couldn’t keep a goddamn secret and the jig was almost up as soon as she could assemble a group of stupid, fucking, giggly girls and whisper what she had just heard. Finally, Mr. Horovitz looked at me and said, firmly but kindly, “You aren’t quitting Patrol, Lori. You can’t.” I sobbed a little and protested, “I have to. I have to be there and help.” He smiled, and said, “I know you want to help, but you have to remember that your mom is an adult, and her job is to take care of you as well as your brother. I know you think you’re making it easier, but you are only hurting yourself. And you promised to do a job. You can’t go back on your word.” I felt that he just didn’t understand how high the stakes were. I had to be there for my family. His next words did little to calm me. “I am going to talk to your mom, okay? I know she will agree with me. Let’s just forget about this. You will continue to be a Patrol, because that’s really important, and it’s also really important for you to do things you love, too. You’re a really good sister. I am really proud of you. But you are not going to do this.”

Needless to say, I went home, dragging my feet because I was positive, given how well I knew my mother and her present state of mind, that she was going to kick my ass for dragging my teacher into this and causing him to have to call her. I was in for the surprise of my life, though. She actually agreed with him, and was a little nicer to me for a while after that. My classmates, too, surprised me. They never made fun of my brother, and aside from a few nervous questions about whether or not his condition “hurt” him, my friends pretty much took up the mantle of surrogate protectors, too, which shows you that kids can be shitty, but sometimes, they can be pretty awesome.

Protecting The Male Sibling Unit is just a part of who I am now, and the fact that he makes it hard for me to do is infuriating and frustrating. I’m in this ’til the end, but there is no need for us to rush the end, is there? With every furtive peanut butter sandwich on white bread, with regular Smuckers instead of his sugar-free preserves, he is fast-forwarding his clock, and mine, because I swear, I can actually feel my blood pressure skyrocket when I discover that he’s been at it again. I try to be calm, to sit him down, to talk to him like adults talk, to use flattery and praise to make him feel invested in making good choices. I understand that there is some sort of short-circuiting involved with all diabetics; they seem to want what they cannot have more intensely and when they go off the beaten path of sensibility, they really stray, ending up in another county at times. They have little self-control, with regular foods and with diabetic foods. I can recall my mother eating every piece of candy that I bought for my brother’s Christmas stocking in a year before he was diagnosed. When I went to retrieve his stocking stuffers to fill it for him, there was an empty bag where the candy had been. She was scathingly unapologetic: “If you would let me eat the shit I want, I wouldn’t have had to eat his.” The same thing applied to her diabetic candies. She couldn’t eat just one or two pieces; she had to eat the entire bag. The bad thing about diabetic candy consumed in large quantities is what it does to a diabetic’s digestive system. It, well….speeds it up. The exit is nearly as quick as the entry. And when you’re an elderly woman who broke a hip and needs to use a walker to get to the bathroom, sometimes you don’t make it. And you leave evidence of your lack of self-control for your home health aide to clean up. And in my mother’s case, she did that just as unapologetically as she ate my brother’s candies, and those 4 bags of bakery items in 1998. Eek.

I doubt that the latest talk with The Male Sibling Unit had any effect. The husband and I have resisted buying a cabinet for food that is off-limits and lockable. That stubborn part of me that was so stoic when I was 11 is now an old lady, set in her ways, pigheadedly insisting that I am not going to make my life more difficult just because he’s an asshole who won’t listen. I know, it’s such a little thing, really. It will ensure his safety and enable me to avoid a stroke. It doesn’t mean that I won’t go all Lewis Black on his shit about something else, or because I have finally reached the end of my rope with some other insufferable subject, like Doomsday Clocks and turnips and how the FUCK does the Religious Right justify sleeping with a porn star within a few month of one’s wife having one’s baby as being worthy of a “mulligan” when every other politician in the world who has even sneezed inappropriately in the general direction of a woman not his wife has been forced to leave office or been impeached? I know. That was a lot to digest. But see? Lewis Black would be proud of that rant. So, we’re gonna get the lockable cupboard, and I am going to hope that I can figure out a fool-proof way to hide a key. And remember where I put it. Maybe I can hide it behind a clock. Tick-tock, motherfucker.

dooms4