Tuesday, September 1, 2009

By All Rights These Shouldn't Work

      The more you think about it the more you realize that families are the most bizarre systems on the planet. The fact that they kind of work is enough to befuddle the senses. If I were to randomly force people into specific groups, those people would, over time, begin to learn and care about one another, then very soon after they would begin to kill one another. Mercilessly without any remorse. A family is basically the same system except that the murderous rage is most often turned inward, because you just love those...people too much to do anything about it.
      Let's start with the basics. Two people meet and fall in love. This is one of the few relationships in a family that actually makes sense. Because of this it really isn't as true a family bond as the others, as it is the only one that can really end. But regardless it only stands to reason that a person could eventually find someone willing to put up with their shit in exchange for their, hopefully, numerous good qualities and/or nice ass. However, then these two have kids and then things start to get interesting. For now they've taken these random little souls and latched them into this family with no hope of ever truly escaping.
      The first to feel the effects of family-rage are siblings, often times even before they are cognizant. I, for one, was attacked as a wee babe by a hate filled tot of a sister who threw my pacifier out of a window to teach me a lesson. This is a perfect example. Only a family could force a little kid and a baby together, have it result in theft and destruction of property, and then continue putting the two together. Watching siblings gives you a clear idea of the strange dynamics at work in families. The younger ones follow the older ones idolizing them, while the older ones hate the younger ones for bugging them all the time. The younger ones hate the older ones for all the privileges they get and the older ones hate the younger ones for getting more attention. Heaven help the middle ones because they get all the fun of having a siblings whose already done everything without any of the extra attention. Despite this, a person can go on a tirade about how their sibling is a horrible human being and the world would be better without them, but if you were to say something even a tenth as insulting they would pop you square in the jaw. "Who said you could talk about MY sibling that way." Despite its problems it is Your family and there is an inherent pride in ownership.
      This is why family love is so bizarre. It is unconditional and it can't be helped. Somewhere deep down you love your siblings, probably even enough to punch someone else in the face for a slanderous comment, and there is nothing you can do about it. No matter what they do to make you hate them and they will make you hate them. Whether through big things or small. For instance, I'm convinced that my sister has stolen my fire extinguisher. She has also left an amount of nesquik in my cupboards that could kill a mule deer.
      No matter what position they are in siblings have a common enemy: the parents. The same freakish love-hate bonds that bind siblings together seems to be there binding parents to their kids, except stronger and more potent. After all, kids are completely dependent on their parents for years and years. Then even after they aren't "completely dependent" they're still calling for favors and loans and whatnot.
      If childhood is the age where inter-sibling attacks are at their highest, then puberty clearly must be when kid-adult attacks hit their big peak. People often like to imply that teenagers are all angsty and angry because of hormones and changing bodies, but perhaps they've just realized who their family is. Finally gotten to where all the new family smell has worn off and the rose colored glasses are probably still sitting at that diner in Arkansas, even though your mom told you twice to remember them. Around this age you really start to see your parents as the strange random people they really are instead of the epic godlike heroes they once were (and I suppose still are in some sense, but the capes are much harder to spot).
      They have failings, and it is hard not to realize that their failings are probably the root of your failings. In the nature versus nurture debate both sides seem to feature an awful lot of parents. How can you not blame them a little bit? Or a lot a bit? It only makes sense that teens are angry. The world as they know it is falling around them and these parents who used to be so cool, but are really just...human, keep acting like they know better. In amongst the verbal fights something else is learned. Because families spend so much time together very few people will know you as well as your family. This also means that very few people can hurt you in the same way a family member can. The double-edged nature of family continues, as the very people who can hurt you the best are also some of the best at cheering you up.
      And so you have this family. The parents who love their kids unconditionally, but are constantly annoyed and infuriated with their kids trying to undermine what they've done. The kids who secretly idolize their parents, but are often embarrassed/annoyed with their bizarre and numerous failings. And the siblings who stick up for one another, but continually fight each other. Despite all of this, family is one of the only social structures in the world that will truly and genuinely care about you and will never stop. For every yin there must be a yang. For there to be as much love as there is in a family there must also be a lot of hate. I suppose it is just another example of the human condition. We hate because we love. And we love because we hate. Would you really trade one away at the risk of losing the other?


  1. Wow. This post is almost as long as your thesis. What brought it on??
    And did you move out of your mom's house? (or wherever you used to live) I ask because you mentioned your sister leaving nesquick in "your" cupboards.

  2. This post is actually shorter than some other posts...and is no where near as long as my thesis.

    Until a couple months ago I lived with my sister and I still find some random things of hers.

  3. I don't think I was necessarily 'hate filled' when I threw your pacifier out the window. Perhaps vengeful? And I deny any and all claims regarding said fire extinguisher.

    As well it's kind of weird to be on the parent side of things now...lord knows I have multiple failings that Jacob will eventually blame me for. Hopefully that love thing you were talking about will win out in the end.

  4. The fires of hate I saw in your eyes that fateful day have forever scorched their mark upon my mind...actually I can't remember it in the slightest, so I'll take your word for it.

    Knowing that your kid will at times hate you must be truly tough, I can't even imagine it. But as long as you don't go out of your way to scar him for life I'm sure he'll never stop loving you. Oh, the life of a parent: the highs, so high and the lows, so low. Or so it would seem.