Linda Stamper Boyne: Suddenly, it’s so 30 years ago
Vail, CO, Colorado
I had a little problem writing this week. None of my topic ideas were panning out. So in search of yet another idea, I hit “Google” on my favorites bar and what to my wondering eyes should appear but a Google doodle of PAC-MAN! How fabulous!
It was there to celebrate the game’s 30th anniversary. PAC-MAN was invented 30 years ago? But it seems like just yesterday that the Stamper girls were hanging out in the arcade at Pony Village Mall playing PAC-MAN and Space Invaders.
As I was pondering the passage of time, suddenly I heard those all-to-familiar sounds signaling the beginning of the game! Are you serious? I get to play? This is awesome! Or in the vernacular of that era, this is awesome!
After 24 hours of somewhat addictive play, and after hearing “wocka, wocka, wocka, wocka” in my sleep, I have to admit, my sister was much better at the games than I. But don’t tell her I admitted that. Because even though it’s been 30 years, I’m still not willing to concede. That’s the thing about sibling rivalry. It’s always there, lurking.
It’s not that I live my adult life caught up in a rivalry with my sister. All that has faded to the background in adulthood when more important things come to the forefront: college, working, relationships, parenting, living, etc.
Bring up something from the past, and it’s all right there, eating dots and being chased by ghosts.
I’m sure birth order plays a lot into it, as well. I’m the younger, 21⁄2 years behind my sister. She was the pleaser, the good student, the high achiever, putting a lot of pressure on herself to succeed. She never got in trouble, and if she ever broke the rules, I am unaware of it.
I, on the other hand, was constantly trying to see what I could get away with, and based on the number of times I was grounded, clearly I didn’t get away with much. I was a good student but “didn’t perform to my potential.” I was the funny one, the emotional one.
I don’t think we had a contemptuous relationship. As a whole, we got along well. But I remember in high school specifically wanting to differentiate myself from her. I didn’t want to be known as her little sister anymore. Up to that point, it was a complement, and somehow at 14, I didn’t perceive it that way anymore.
I specifically chose a different foreign language to study (Spanish for me, French for her). Different sports (after one season of cross country, I conceded she was the distance runner in the family). Different attitude (she was very PMA, “If you dream it, you can achieve it,” so I went the other way, just to provide contrast).
In retrospect, I wonder how much of this was all just my perception of our relationship. I’ve never asked her if she felt any sort of rivalry with me, though she did go to the prom with my boyfriend (long story for another column), so perhaps she did.
I think the root of sibling rivalries can all be traced back to one thing: hand-me-downs. It’s the shirts that are already faded, the pants that “just have a little hole patched” with iron-on patches, the bike that’s already “broken in,” the shoes that are clearly molded to someone else’s feet, the jacket that has a zipper that sticks and stretched-out cuffs.
How could the younger siblings not be resentful of the older? They get to do everything first, including wearing the clothes and riding the bike. They came first. We’re always No. 2.
Watching my boys, I wonder how their relationship will progress and change as they get older. Right now, they really are great friends. I’m trying my best to do all the things parents are supposed to do to nurture their friendship and avoid sibling rivalry, but conflicts are inevitable, particularly in the years to come.
As they sat on the same chair Saturday playing two-man Google PAC-MAN, working together, not competing, it seemed like sibling rivalry was the farthest thing from a possibility.
I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
Linda Stamper Boyne, of Edwards, can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org