Pros and cons of being a little brother

tulli brothers
My mom, Nick (front), and I in Pittsburgh in the summer of 2005. Photo provided

By Matt Tulli

You may have read the title of this article and assumed that there are far more positives than negatives in being the little brother. If not, you’re probably the younger sibling. Well, for the older siblings or people who thought that way, I’m here to shoot that assumption down.

Being a younger brother does have tons of positives. First, you’re the second one to experience school, so you pretty much know what to expect. For me, my brother Nick did an awesome job of filling me in on mostly everything I needed to know about high school. Nick took me through the high school towards the end of summer so I wouldn’t end up running into people trying to figure out this dang map they gave us at orientation.

I luckily had three of his former teachers in the first semester: Mr. Bender, Ms. Dowd and Mrs. Mintzer. He filled me in on the ins-and-outs of every teacher’s class and how to succeed in them. He set an awesome reputation for me; one that really helped me through the all-important first semester. If I had a question about something in high school, he was always there to answer it.

What he unfortunately didn’t fill me in on was lunch on the first day. I had no idea how to navigate through the kitchen, and I wound up being one of the last people to leave it. Then, I wound up sitting with some kids who the only contact I ever had with them was liking their statuses on Facebook in seventh grade. Two of them didn’t even have Facebook accounts, so I ate my chicken wings awkwardly listening to their conversation while staring at my food.

Away from school, Nick was the one to teach me the ever-important feat in your childhood: how to ride a bike. This process took over three days, with him just giving up and pushing me on my face at least twice. Without him, I probably would have been scared to try and never cared to learn.

Also, he was the measuring stick for my height. Whenever he comes home from State College, where he is a freshman at Penn State University, there is at least one point throughout the break when we would look each other in the eyes, look down at our feet, and look back up to the tops of our heads. Nici will usually say, “Jeez you’re getting tall,” or “You’re gonna be towering over me soon.” Laugh all you want: I take pride in the fact that I’m almost as big as my 18-year old brother

But let’s look at it on the flip side.

Nick was the one who was basically inclined to lay a beating on me at appropriate times. Like when I turned off the XBox in the middle of a game, Nick gave me a good whooping. When I beat him in a game of basketball in the driveway, he is allowed to give me a punch in the arm; I’m used to it by now. It’s what he’s supposed to do, right? And I’m supposed to be the instigator. That’s how it’s always been, and that’s how it will always be.

He was the first one to experience things like driving, cell phones, church retreats and college. The first time that Nick legally sat behind that wheel (and proceeded to pound the brake so hard it practically broke my neck), I realized it would be exactly three years, seven months and four days until I would be in that position. Not exactly a short wait, if you ask me.

When he opened up that cell phone on Christmas day of his seventh grade year, I was immediately jealous. He had his whole group of friends at his fingertips, and what did I have? I had to wait. When I had to go up to the Poconos to drop Nick off for a week-long, no-parent church retreat, I just wanted to be his age. But unfortunately, he was going into eighth grade and I was going into fourth. So I had to keep waiting. And don’t even get me started on when we dropped him off at Penn State on that fateful August day. That may have been one of the worst days of my life.

But one of the most brutal things that Nick ever did to me was basically turn me into his own personal servant. The two of us would be upstairs in the TV room, Nick playing PlayStation, and me watching, like usual. At any point that he would be hungry or have needs that would have to be satisfied, he would just tell me to “bring us some snacks,” or “go get my iPod charger,” or something along those lines. In the rare event that I would refuse, Nick would always just say “I’ll time you,” really meaning that he won’t keep track of how fast I do the task; he would just make up a certain time when I arrived back. This continued until I was about 9, when my common sense finally raised to a level where I realized what he was doing.

In the end, I realize that Nick was always there to guide me or just give me advice. We’re brothers; we don’t have to love each other at first but soon we’ll look back and be thankful for all the good things that they did. I wouldn’t change anything about the relationship between Nick and me.