Being your brother’s keeper will never be easy, but it’s doable with love, patience, and a whole lot of cursing.
Develop a friendship.
Because even with a seven-year age difference, no one will understand Daddy’s wrath and Mummy’s selective hearing like baby brother will. No one will beg for him when he has broken something like you will. And no one will hold your face and beg you to stop hurting yourself like he will. Your friendship will take time and a lot of patience. Patience on both ends, because you’ll forever be a nagger, and he’ll forever want to grow up too fast. But once the friendship is there, you’ve successfully laid the foundation to a bond that is almost unbreakable.
Congratulations. Welcome to the stress of becoming your brother’s keeper.
Master sibling annoyance.
Attack his germaphobic behavior. Poke fun that he is a cry-baby. A big one. Help him to build that tough skin. When your home for the holidays, do that thing he hates when you barge into his bedroom before the sun has fully come up and jump on his back and shower him with kisses. Do the “Yetti Dance” in front of the T.V. as he’s playing Playstation. And lastly, block his car in the driveway and go out with Peaches. Annoy the fuck out of big little man, because secretly, deep down in that heart of his, he likes it. Why does he like it? Because he knows it’s your way of loving him.
You may stand tall at 5’3″, and he may be a whole foot taller than you, but don’t ever be afraid to stand on the chairs in the kitchen and square up with him. When he gets disrespectful, don’t ever be afraid to pull over in the middle of the 290 East highway and tell him to get out. You, one of the very few people who holds his trust, need to put him in his place. He’ll be angry. He’ll give you the silent treatment. He’ll block you from social media. But he’ll thank you for it later.
Show up for him.
Not just for those joyous moments. Not just for the celebrations. Show up even when you’re tired. Even when it’s unnecessary. Even if it’s out of fear, more so than love. Show up. Show out. Support baby bro. Scream from the stands at graduation with your eye make-up smeared across your face. Cry and yell as you get in your car and drive across three states at 3 A.M scared out of your mind with your eye make-up smeared across your face. Fight for him when Saint John’s High School tries to make an example of him when a white student calls him a “nigger” and gets away with it. Show the world he’s not a threat when innocent black boys are wrongfully killed. This is the reason he trusts you. This is the reason he knows you’ll have his back. Don’t let him down. Show up, and show out.
Pray for him.
Yes, turn to the man up above. Yes, the man who you don’t always believe in, and ask him at 5:32 AM, with your hands firmly planted on your heart that will not be still, to keep your baby brother safe. To keep him safe. To keep him alive. To keep him honest. And to let him get through this hump, or whatever hump he’s battling. Ugly cry and beg him to be with him at all dark moments. Beg him to do the miracles you’ve heard people talk about. Beg him to make things right for your brother.
Love him from afar.
Love him hard. Love him black and blue. Love him unconditionally. But learn to do it from a distance when you have finally hit your breaking point. When you’ve done all that you can possibly do, and given all that you can absolutely give, take what little love is left, and invest it back into your self-care. It won’t mean you’re no longer your brother’s keeper. It won’t mean you no longer care. It just means he is grown enough to make his own mistakes and learn from them. Your interference and your cape can only go so far. Love him from afar sis, and pray to God he makes it out alive.2