I have three younger siblings, but you’d never know it to read my journals. Kierstn is seven years younger, and Gunnar is 14 years younger than me. Kierstn and Gunnar rarely show up in my journals for the simple reason that I was never blackout raging mad at them.
Annika, on the other hand, features regularly. Every oppressed writer needs an oppressor. That was my parents. She also needs a sniveling turncoat antagonist to laugh at her misfortune and steal her birthright. That was Annika.
From ages 7-14 (3-10 for her), it would seem she camped out on my last nerve.
April 6, 1993-Why! Oh! Why! Did this happen to me. I can’t believe I promised Annika I’d be her slave.
Not sure how I managed to turn that into an innocent victim scenario…
April 8, 1993-Gosh. Now that Annika is five she’s been awful sassy. 5’s not so old.
I assume this was to be read in deep southern drawl and addressed to “Pa” or “Ma.”
Some oldest girl-children are instinctively maternal, doting and caring for dolls and younger children. I’m instinctively maternal as well, if you consider Lucille Bluth a mother-figure. Annika made the perfect whetstone on which to hone my budding life skills: sarcasm, passive aggression, and selfishness employed “for the good of others.”
March 23, 1995 – Today started out GREAT. I took a test. It was okay… But like yesterday, today ended in tragedy. ANNIKA. She treats me like a toothache. I help her with her homework. I play with her. And she spits in my face (not literally). But all everyone sees is how I refuse to accept her behavior. And she lies that I treat her awfully. I help her with her homework, instead of telling her the answers I make her use her brain she says I’m the worst sister she ever had. Then the other day we were looking at something and she (without asking me if it was okay with me) just stormed off with it. She comes back and I try to teach her something so I said, “Yes Annika I was through looking.”
Then she gets all adjetatated [sic] and starts to go get it. So I compassionately say, “That’s okay. I don’t need to look.” So we were happy until my dad said, “Now Bekah why did you bring it up again if you didn’t care?”
So tonight he comes in and tells me how bad it is and what the Bible says about being mean to your sister. So I’m going to let her be as cruel as she wants. I won’t react whatsoever. I’ll treat her like a queen instead of a sister.
I need to ask Annika to be sure, but I doubt I treated her like a queen at any point thereafter. Hence the lesson went unlearned.
My parents also continually refused to take my sage child-rearing advice, even when delivered in the vernacular of their tribe. (“Refuse to accept her behavior” is, I am pretty sure, a phrase right out of Dobson’s Parenting the Strong-Willed Child.)
The first piece of advice I tried to give them, and give them often, was that they were spoiling Annika. She didn’t have my moral constitution. I could absorb a lot more privilege without being ruined.
April 1, 1995 – I am so ticked at my “darling” sister and mother. First of all we took—wait a minute! That’s not where the little backstabbers began. Earlier, Annika walks in: “Bekah you know how we were supposed to go to the lease today and the mall Monday, well I wanted to go to the mall today and I forgot about the lease. So we’re taking vote because I can’t decide which one.”
Like the entire family revolves around her! I didn’t want to vote because I didn’t want to hurt Dad’s feelings. But I REALLY wanted to go to the mall. So we go to get Mom’s vote. She says she doesn’t want to hurt Dad’s feelings either. So she tells Annika that JUST her and Kate can go to the mall next week. Then mom took Grace to the vet and wouldn’t even let me go to Leeanna’s. You know what, for Annika’s birthday she’s having a family party at Pear Apple, cupcakes in her class, and she and Kate get to go to Fiesta Texas and the Mall. And its not even a landmark birthday at all. For my TENTH birthday all I did was take four friends to a restaurant, and they spent the night. Eleventh too. [It should be noted that the entries immediately following these birthday parties describe them as the best nights of my life. But that was beside the point in the argument I was making.] I didn’t even have a family party. I saw them at Matthew’s birthday. Next thing you know Mom will be taking Annika and Kate to Europe and send them to the awesome (my dream) Camp Edphy in QUEBEC! Oh gosh go to go get dressed for the deer lease. Whoopie!
I was constantly getting my heart set on things like overnight camp in Quebec. Who needs exaggeration when you are a walking, talking hyperbole?
Me. I need exaggeration. Although, please note the parenthetical counter-monologue that, for the good of my future readers, serves to balance out my more daring figures of speech. It occurs throughout the journals, and has followed me into adulthood.
April 13, 1995-I hate, I repeat HATE Annika. I hate Annika more than the scum between Jason’s toes. I hate her more than the lice in Chris’s hair. (Actually, Chris doesn’t have lice, it was just a form of comparison). I hate her looks, I hate her mind, I hate her soul, I even hate her ring finger on her right arm. I most of all though hate her attitude. She thinks she’s the most perfect, wonderful, adored person in the world! But she can’t be, because her own sister hates her. I just can’t help it. If I don’t let it out as it comes, it doesn’t come out as it comes therefore it boils up inside and then it explodes at the wrong time.
Perfect – X
Pretty – X
Smart – [check mark]
Good at all the sports she thinks and brags she is- X.
Evaluation= I HATE HER!
x=no, [check mark]=yes
I included that key at the bottom so that my readers could interpret Annika’s eval. The layperson could have gotten lost in the jargon.
Of course we all know how this story ends. At some point in college Annika comes to visit and single handedly saves me from making a really stupid mistake with a really stupid guy. She’s one of my favorite people in the world, and every now and then I remind myself that I owe her about 1,000,000 acts of kindness to make up for bedeviling her childhood and just being the worst.