At five, I began going to ballet and tap classes on Saturdays and group piano lessons at the local Yamaha. I loved dancing. Hated the piano. What I liked about dancing was the ability to express myself through steps and arm movements and I knew someone was watching when I twirled in my tutus for dance recitals. Plus, I loved having make-up applied to my face as a lil girl because my own mother didn't own any make-up nor did she allow me to buy any to play dress up. My aunt would always come in to help me with dolling up my face for a performance. Piano, on the other hand ... was so insanely dull. I hated memorizing the different notes and symbols and the constant scolding of the teacher to mimic my hand like an apple, not a bread when I hit the notes. And hit I did. The piano, that is. My notes were cacaphony to the ear... yet my mother kept making me play and not just when I felt like it (which would have been never) but instead for a gruesome hour each day! UGH. At the young age of five, I was opinionated and an attention hog. These two things would make life a lot harder at six.
At six, my mom had another baby. He was adorable - the cutest baby boy anyone had ever seen and who could deny that little dimple?! I resented him. I couldn't play with him and he was the only thing people wanted to talk about or see when they came over now. Nobody asked me about ballet or the piano anymore. Nobody asked me when my next recital was anymore. Nobody asked me to do a twirl for them anymore. Who cares about his stinky diapers and cute lil laugh? Who care if he has a dimple? Who cares if he's the cutest baby ever? What about me?!
My grandmother noticed immediately and advised my mom to take immediate action. So my mom took me aside one day and told me there was one thing I had that my baby brother could never have that I was lucky to have forever. I must have rolled my eyes (where do kids learn these things so young?!) in disbelief because she then proceeded to tell me what that was. "You have six years with just Mom and Dad that Lay-Lay will never have," she told me. I thought about it for a while and then like a flip of the switch, I was happy again. I bounced off with the knowledge that I already beat him - even before he was born! Take that sucka!!!
As Lay-Lay and I grew up, we had our differences. Well, I had our differences. Mainly - the fact that he would never leave me alone! He tagged along with me everywhere if given the opportunity, hung around when friends were over, sat there and just listened in on our conversations, pretending like he knew what we were talking about.
And then... when I went to college and came back for a weekend... he must have been 13... he ran into the room while I was sleeping in the morning, gave me a big hug and said, "Jia - I missed you!" I was in shock. I had never felt the sisterly love that others talked about in movies or on tv until that very precise moment. It's a bit embarassing to say I never realized I truly loved my brother until I was 19 .. but it's true. Up until then, I just went through the expected emotions one should have for their family members. Of course I cared for him and took care of him, but Asians don't show a lot of emotions nor do we really hug or say I love you. So his little gesture out of nowhere meant the world to me and it opened my eyes to truths about our sibling relationship and what it really meant to the both of us.
These days, my brother is one of my best friends. He laughs at me when I tell him about guys that I'm crushing on and advises me against overthinking, overanalyzing and overreacting. I give him advice about the real world, how to handle difficult people and he listens. He complains about adolescence, me about adulthood and we both try to keep each other in check. We laugh about stupid things only we understand (that's 20 years of inside jokes and some immature ones like you're mom! ... yeah ummm you have the same one...), plan our busy weekends together (e.g. beach, eat, shop, bake, cook, get food, run errands, eat more, watch a movie, eat again) and complain to each other when mom or pops is being unreasonable. I send him care packages for holidays, postcards intermittenly and talk to him online or on the phone at least three times a week. If I have a business trip anywhere on the east coast, I make a stop over to see him and be sugar momma for a weekend. Sometimes he forgets to say thank you which bugs me out but it's this weird sisterly love that I can'y deny and often times, forgive him too easily and quickly. When we go out together, people often think he's the older brother, mainly attributed to his looming height of 6'4 and what I hope is a youth that radiates within me! No matter what, at the end of the day, I am big sis and he is lil bro.
So when I told my lil bro about the Church, he was the first one genuinely concerned and frightened for me. Do you know what you're getting yourself into? Do you even know what Mormons believe in? Do you know who Joseph Smith is? After some discussion with him, I found out he had invited some missionaries into our home at 16 when I was off in college. He was instructed to read parts of the Book of Mormon and asked to pray but he didn't do both. He read and didn't pray. His high school debate partner was Mormon. He knew some crazy Mormon girl who got pregnant at 19 and then got married. He made some assumptions about Mormons and was sticking to it.
But there were two things that he said that touched me and lead me to believe.. he will give me a chance to speak to him about it all in more depth one day. When I asked him how this would affect him and how it was for me, his response was, "You're my sister.. how could this not affect me?" and "I disagree but I'll go to your baptism." At this point... I hadn't even decided to get baptized nor did I invite him.
He came to the baptism. And he had really bad allergies throughout the baptism but to the rest of the world, he was touched. Who knows the truth? Only God and my brother.
I pray for him everyday. That he will come to know the things I do and that he will see the example I provide. He knows the crazy things I did, he witnessed some of them and he knows how big of a change this is for me. He must wonder... he must. He can't not wonder.
The other day he told me about how he wanted to write a film about his life in the early 20's, a couple years into college but still not graduated or in the real world. He told me about what everyone was doing and how people have changed, then asked me if that's what it was like for me at that age. It was, I told him. It's weird how life sometimes parallels another.
I know God has a plan for him as he did for me and I hope I can be a part of that plan.
I <3 my baby bro
p.s. that turkey we made for Thanksgiving was bomb-diggity.
p.s. that turkey we made for Thanksgiving was bomb-diggity.