I have a much, much younger brother back at home. When I introduce him to people as my brother, they look at him, then look at me, and then think, “mistake!” My parents more kindly refer to him as a “surprise.” Seeing as how I had been through several sex ed classes by the time he was born, I’ve always known better. Also, I’d rather have not known in my high school years that my parents still had a sex life.
When those who don’t know us see my brother and I in public, they’re more likely to think we’re father and son. So I imagine that’s what happened this weekend when I took him to his very first minor league baseball game. It was one thing for me to stumble over my own words as I asked for a child’s ticket. It was another thing to be quietly judged as a parent by the other parents around me.
I have to admit that I don’t see my brother that often. So, when I get a chance to go home, I find myself spoiling him as though I was a grandparent. I take him out to the beach for chowder and clamcakes. I take him to the Science Museum. I take him out for ice cream. I’m clearly the favorite sibling, but that’s probably only because I buy him off.
Friday night’s ballgame was no different. He got everything he wanted. When we were in the team shop before the game, my brother wanted a pennant. “Chris, you should buy me this,” he told me. How can I say no to that? At two dollars, I figured he was going to be the cheapest date I’ve ever had. Directly behind me in line, another child saw my brother with the pennant and asked his parents for the same. They sternly lectured the child. “You can’t just get everything you want,” his mother said.
The guilt was poured on even heavier when I bought my brother a cup of french fries. We came back to our seats on the left field berm and plopped down with our fries. In no less than ten seconds, a little girl next to us was pointing in our direction, asking her parents for fries. “No,” her mother said. “They’ll make you fat.”
I nearly burst into laughter, but I avoided any eye contact with that family for the rest of the game. I feared getting a stare-down from the girl’s mom.
Now, to be fair, her mom was pretty hot… definitely a MILF. So the little girl’s got genetics on her side, and laying off the fries would probably do her some good. But I couldn’t help but think that I was being judged for spoiling my brother.
Of course, it isn’t my fault that these kids’ parents have principles. I can’t help the fact that they’re not willing to put out a simple two or three bucks to give their child their every want and need. I can’t help that they’re not willing to succumb to the puppy-dog faces and the “pleeeeeease, pretty pleeeeases” that their kids pull on them. Is it really my fault that I can’t say no?
Yes, it is.
I am going to make a horrible parent.