Waiting inside the car in the pouring rain for friends to arrive, I looked up from my iPod at a snicker from my companion.
"Look," She said, pointing.
I glanced out the front windscreen to see a car parked lengthwise in front of us. Through the dreary weather, I could see our brothers inside the car, pressing their faces up against the breath-fogged windows and waving at us like maniacs.
I grinned and chuckled. "Brothers," I said. "They make life fun."
"Well... I dunno," my friend's sister replied, unconvinced. "Sometimes things would be a lot quieter without them."
"If I had to choose between living in a family of girls or a family with boys, I'd choose the one with boys every time." I responded with feeling.
"Really?!" She burst out.
"Why, you wouldn't?" I asked, surprised.
Come on, let's face it, us girls can get pretty wrapped up in ourselves. We can get choosy about fashion and food, spend hours ranting and raving about which Pride & Prejudice is better (I personally like the new one), decorate to beat the band, and do a whole other host of quiet sit-down handcrafts. And though all of these things are often constructive and resourceful, they can also restrict our understanding and ability to relate to those of the opposite gender. Unless it is a particular young man who has patience in spades, going on about your Laura Ingalls Wilder period dress with real antique buttons is not going to keep him awake very long. When you have brothers, it is as though this WHOLE other part of your brain is opened up to a wider appreciation of guyish things. How to hunt and shoot game, make home-made water rockets, how to cut grass, have an appreciation for good cars, get a basic understanding of an engine, learn about different periods of history (the ones without the pretty girly costumes), build a fort, use a hammer and nails, use mechanical machines, ride a bike, or totally annihilate an opponent on Age of Empires. Not all this information and skills are inherently useful to know, but they remind us girls that there is actually a world out there that guys live in, and it's nice to have an appreciation for what they appreciate.
[Note: This also works well in reverse. Guys who have sisters gain a greater appreciation for Jane Austen, violin music, and other paraphernalia . How awesome is it for a random girl to comment on a Jane Austen movie and have the guy nearby know exactly what she's talking about?]
2. They teach girls to accept chivalry.
Aka, guys get to do all the dirty jobs! Woo!
Okay, teasing aside, girls: appreciate your brothers for the stuff you don't have to do. I live on a small farm where there are a lot of animals, and a lot of machines, and basically a whole lot of stuff that can go wrong. And when a water pipe has burst, an animal needs to be shot and buried, or a car needs the oil changing, I praise God that I'm not the one who has to do it! My brothers have my highest respect for the many tasks they carry out so that I don't have to. I shrink at the thought of not having brothers. Otherwise, it would be me trying to do the plumbing with Dad, pulling the trigger on a sick sheep being held still, and me that needs to help jack the car up. On the flip side though, though brothers do the hard yards in all these tasks, if you have a mind to learn, you can observe and pick up how to do these things yourself if you are ever caught in a jam without your knights in shining armour there to help you. Brothers are incredible teachers! If you care to listen to them, you can learn a billion things from them, even if they sometimes believe they know it all.
These are big things, but it's also good to learn how to accept these smaller chivalrous acts, such as having the door opened for you, things carried for you, or a seat given to you. There is nothing more heartbreaking to see a guy shunned for his chivalry. Men desire to help and regard women out of their respect for them. Don't rain on their parade by ignoring even the smallest act of kindness from a brother in Christ. Accepting their good works towards you in the heart that they are given brightens their day! Learning how to be a gracious lady is one of the best things having brothers has taught me.
3. They teach girls to relate to young men.
The Bible says young men are to treat young women as sisters with all purity. I believe this goes both ways, in that young women should treat young men as brothers with all purity. Having brothers helps girls to learn how to relate to young men in the right manner. How a girl will treat her brother speaks volumes as to how she will treat her husband and sons one day. Growing up with young men and understanding how they think and feel does volumes for a girl's future relationships. It shows girls how to have Godly, pure relationships with young men outside of her family, and to know what is and isn't acceptable. It also lessens any awkwardness or unease a girl may have around boys her own age. She will be comfortable in who she is, and how she treats people because she has had so much practise with her brothers.
4. They give girls good insight.
Boys see things girls don't, and vice versa. My brothers' opinions and heartfelt insights mean the world to me. Hearing their thoughts on how I dress, or what they think of the company I keep, - even if I hear it indirectly through Mum and Dad - helps me so much. They see me how every other young man out there sees me. They deserve our respect and attention for giving their opinions on our outward appearance and attitudes. Brothers are the young men who - if you are single - love you the most, and would never willingly hurt your feelings by anything they say. They should be listened to and respected for caring enough to guide you as their sister. They only want the best for you in sharing their thoughts!
5. They help girls understand guys.
Let's face it, we're so different it's almost funny. In fact, it's hilarious! I get such a kick out of seeing how often girls and guys confuse each other merely because they didn't understand how each other thought. ("He bought me a vacuum cleaner for our anniversary!!! How could he?!" "I thought she wanted a vacuum cleaner...She said so last week...") Ahhh, I would laugh if the divorce rates these days weren't so high. Learning how guys just don't care if they have to pick their clothes up off the floor before they wear them, how they don't readily notice a new haircut or outfit, how they only ever seem to comment on the food you make and nought else, and on their days off try to take over your laundry/office/kitchen/house helps you to realize that a. the world doesn't revolve around you and b. it is a guy thing. Not the end of the earth! They can be the vaguest people on earth, and you want to tear your hair out whilst wondering where the intelligent tech genius you had five minutes ago just went, but when you understand our differences can often be on par with colour-blind people who can only see greyscale, and those who see rainbows everywhere - the complexities of our girlish natures are often lost on the practical black-and-white minds of young men. Brothers can teach us how to understand them, and in turn, how we can better express our feelings in a manner that they will too understand. Knowing these things can make a great difference in our future relationships.
[No offence to all you guys, but seriously, you's can be SO vague at times!]
6. They teach us patience, and to die to self.
If you want to be a good sister, sometimes you need to DIE...
...to your girlish desires.
Honest, sometimes I really, really, really don't want to see the grass hut that my littlest brother has made, or to check out a riff my guitar nut brother has made up. I don't feel like trudging up the paddock to see newly discovered goose eggs, or tip-toeing through metal lathe shavings in the shed to look at a shaft I have no idea what it's for. I can be in the middle of a leisurely chat with a friend online whilst looking at girly things on Pinterest, when my little brother runs up to me, smudged all over with dirt and asks me to play a game of Battleship with me. I can be curled up with a book on my bed, when a tap on the window asks that I come outside and check out the new stilts my close-in-age brother has just made. OH - how my insides shrivel up and scream at the thought of being torn away from my girlish wants! When it gets too much, sometimes I just want to block my ears, and shout: "NO! I'm doing what I want to do!" Especially if I know there is a stack of washing to be done, meals to cook, floors to clean, and this is my five minute spell from all the work.
However, I know from experience, that for the sake of a good relationship with my dear brothers, showing interest in what interests them makes the biggest difference in their lives. If I want to be someone who will later in life be a supportive wife, a capable mother, and a trustworthy woman, I need to learn how to die to self and do what I'd rather not do for the sake of others. When you love someone, you want to serve them, even if you are caught at the worst time. Sometimes it pays to make a mental effort to pause for ten seconds before you brush them aside with a, "No, I'm busy right now". Sometimes it pays to look deeply into those beseeching eyes - yearning for the acceptance and approval of a beloved sister. Yes, I often do brush aside their open-hearted requests with a busyness response, however if ever I get the chance, and I look at what I'm doing, asking myself "Is this more important?" I strive to put my wonderful siblings above my selfish desires. And often enough, I find I really do enjoy and appreciate what they've done, or the game I just played. Brothers have the most bizarre range of things that are "interesting", and it helps your kindhearted side to use your imagination and be enthused with them, no matter what your girlish side is screaming about!
7. They teach us to try. REALLY HARD!
No girl born into a family of boys can say they have never seen competition. Boys are born programmed with one simple rule in life: to win. Losing is simply not an option.
I have discovered in my life with brothers, that losing to girls really isn't that big of a deal. No, no one likes to lose. But it's something that wears off rather quickly in your enjoyment for the game (unless there is a snob on the opposing team). Boys however, have no such thing. If they lose, it is a strike against their name, a black mark upon their forehead that they must quickly erase, generally by the words "Rematch! A rematch!"
Since girls will inevitably beat guys at some things, this kind of competition teaches a girl to try and win. Sibling rivalry - in the lovable sense - is a great source of amusement, and it somehow makes the game (regardless of what it is) a lot more of a life or death situation. Therefore, girls are forced to try hard. Really hard. After all, who wants to lose to a younger brother? That stings worse than normal losing, even to a girl!
I love this thing about my sisters and I, where whatever we do, we give it our all. When we play tennis, if there's a chance to reach that ball, we will go all out running across the court to try and reach it. We will play our hearts out when it comes to ping-pong, we will bash our brains against the wall to win at Scrabble, we WILL get the dishes done faster than the guys! This "try hard" mentality makes you a vital person to have on any team in years to come, because they know that when the chips are down, you can be counted on to try your hardest!
8. They add new dimensions to "fun", and sometimes make it.
When you're in a family full of girls, the fun is mostly limited to things that are girly. And there is nothing wrong with that (I'm a girl, I like girly things). However in a family with boys, girls are exposed to different areas of fun. Not things that are immodestly tomboyish or that take away from your femininity, but activities and things that broaden your scope of entertainment from tea parties and crafts, to go-karting and waterbomb fights. Some random things I enjoy doing and find fun thanks to my brothers are: shooting, go-karting, fast cars (Lamborghini for the win!), thriller/action movies, fireworks, air cannons, ping-pong, Need for Speed, Biggles books, and more. It gives you a greater spectrum on which to relate to a wider variety of people. You never know who you may get to impact via something as simple as a favourite sport.
Also, brothers can be incredibly handy with tools. I have several bookshelves made by one brother. I also have had things break that my other brother was able to fix. Some of the games they invent, and the things they have built fill my heart with delight. How awesome is it to have brothers that can design things for you? When you can have an idea for something and you take it to them, and they can bring it from being an idea to 3D material before your eyes? Talk about awesome!
9. They protect you.
I love it that my brothers are bigger and stronger than me. I'm never afraid to go anywhere with my brothers - not a jot. I know that they love me and a fiercely loyal, and I genuinely pity anyone who might try and attack me. They might not live to hear my condolences. How can a girl go past this security? I call Jacob "my personal bodyguard" and I'm ever grateful that he is! I feel ten feet tall and bulletproof when I'm with him, and I'm ever so grateful that I have brothers to safely hide behind whenever I go somewhere with them. Don't ever take the protection your brothers give you for granted. You know who you'll be wishing you had a better relationship with one day if you find yourself in a dark alley with a bunch of thugs after sending your brother home with an "I'll be alright".
And, number 10. they make your life interesting.
Who needs a clown show when you have a house full of brothers? Seriously, brothers are the best source of comedy entertainment you could ever hope to have. Just watch them! They beat each other up just for the fun of it, egg each other on to do crazy stupid things ("No, don't jump from fence post to fence post--!" "DO IT!"), say the randomest stuff in public and don't care, make the most obvious mistakes that are so fun to laugh at, and make the most outrageous suggestions. Brothers make life interesting! They keep your randomness meter topped up, your pride trimmed, your patience tried, and your love overflowing. Little things my brothers do from a jab in the side with a grin, a soft pat on my shoulder, a "pretty good" that speaks a thousand words, a "nice" that means a thousand more, knowing laughter, private jokes, I-was-thinking-thats, and remember-whens: all of these things I've had from my brothers speak more than I can put into words, and they mean the world to me. I say for myself, a life without brothers is a life half lived. There are so many added benefits and blessings to having a brother in your life.
So if you're a girl with brothers, even if you're close, or maybe not-so-close with them, appreciate them! Cherish them as the treasures they are. If the relationship you have with the young men in your family are lacking, don't be afraid to try and work on it. A journey starts with a single step, and maybe your efforts to become closer to your brothers will be the beginnings of something amazing. You will learn more than you ever knew you could learn, and understand so much better why brothers are so important. Recognize them as the blessing they are. If you have a good relationship with your brother/s, maybe now is a good opportunity just to say you appreciate them! Who knows, it may well be just what they needed to hear today.