To spice things up around here, I’m participating in Finish-the-Sentence Friday, which I discovered on the fabulously funny Kate Hall’s blog Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine. Premise: they provide a sentence, I finish it. Basic stuff. And I do so love a prompt…

Finish the Sentence Friday

When I was younger I tried…

…to gaslight my sister. I know, what kind of psychopath does that? Apparently, this psychopath. I didn’t even realize I was doing it, I was just trying to make her life as miserable as she made mine through the only means available to me: emotional manipulation and passive-aggressive mind tricks.

*Note: my sister and I have been on very good terms for the past sixteen years. It was a phase for which she (I think?) has forgiven me. Please don’t report me to social services.

The rivalry between my sister and me can be traced deep into ancient family folklore. According to legend, on the very day she was born, I hit her. What kind of emotionally unstable two-year-old does that? I guess I was jealous of all the attention everyone paid her adorable self, in all her Gerber-infant glory. No two-year-old wants to be upstaged by anyone, least of all a newborn baby.

My poor mother.

Fast-forward a few years, and we shared a bedroom. Now first off, I’ve never been a good sharer unless the share is contracted within tight parameters. For instance, I will loan you my Barbie, but under the terms of the loan she must be; a.) returned within the hour, b.) returned in the condition in which you received her. So sharing space in which to live? Not an ideal situation. Plus she was a typical messy younger sibling who would constantly be touching my stuff, Mom, she’s pulling out Teddy Ruxpin AGAIN! Make her put it AWAY! She’s going to RUIN HIM!

Since walloping her was an unavailable option for me because it would lead to my being punished, naturally, I had to get back at her in other ways. On car rides I would pinch her when my parents weren’t looking, then after wailing, she would get in trouble.

“But mom, it was Natalie!” she’d moan plaintively.

“I didn’t touch her,” I’d say with all the rationality of a Rhodes Scholar. I was a good liar.

She would get in trouble for howling, because I cunningly deflected the annoyance of the situation onto her while she was still too young to effectively defend herself.

I know, I am a horrible person.

My tricks later extended to convincing her that if she didn’t do petty favors for me, like get me a drink of water at night (what? I was on the top bunk), I would tell all of her friends not to be friends with her anymore…

…this whole exercise is not painting me in the best light. At least I can say that I outgrew this sociopathic manipulative phase fairly young.

So anyway, these are just a few examples, the ones that stand out most in my memory. I am positive she has tried to block a lot of it out, and in any case, why bring up ancient history? I don’t do things like that anymore. Unlike Dexter, I outgrew my Dark Passenger.

My parents must have done something right, since I didn’t end up like this.

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Gaslight — 25 Comments

  1. hahaha!!! I can sooooo see you doing that, and looking dead on at your parents with your doe eyes and perfect intonation in your voice. “Not me. How preposterous.” Oh man, this is the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time; thank you for this.

  2. I guess it’s just a sister thing. I was a year and a half when my sister was born, and apparently I used to steal her bottle and drink it under her crib. I love her to death now…and not in a Dexter kind of way.

  3. So glad you linked up today! I have to say, I have honestly enjoyed getting a window into everybody’s strange little childhood memories… When my brother was born, I didn’t hit him, but I did go home from the hospital, climb on my bedside table and shout, “Dammit, dammit, dammit!” For what it’s worth.

  4. Oh man, this totally brought back memories of the horror I brought upon my poor sister. And she is 7 years younger than me. Any therapy she’s had, I blame on me. Ugh. It’s still funny though. Why did my parents let me get away with that? Wait, I blame them for her therapy!

  5. When my mother was pregnant with my brother, I swore she was having a girl, because I wanted a sister that badly. Now, looking back just as well that he wasn’t a girl, because we probably would have beat the crap out of each other. Ok, maybe not, but I couldn’t imagine two girls (one of them me) surviving to tell the tale. God that sounded awful, but was a very strong personality growing up. That said loved your post and thank you for linking up and sharing with us.

  6. OMG I love this. I didn’t have a sister (say your hallelujahs now) but I totally mind#cked my brothers. To the point that I’d convinced one of them that he was really a girl. He was three.
    The take-away from my asshole comment? You’re not alone. And it doesn’t require sisters.

  7. Oh wow. I totally did the pinch and deny thing to my sister. I was also once enraged enough that I bit her, hard, in front of our Dad. Then realised I had no way to get out of taking the blame. I think I got slippered for that.

  8. I actually had to look up what “gaslight” meant. I love the word now. I do that all the time to my students. My wife and I work at the same school, and when freshmen come in, or kids who’ve never had me ask, “are you related to the Mrs. Plumb who teaches drama?” To which I say one of three things, “There’s a Mrs. Plumb here? Is she single?” or “She’s my sister.” or “I’m not allowed to talk about it because of a court order.” Most kids know I’m joking, but it never fails, gullible kids will find me in the hall years later and say, “You are married to Mrs. Plumb,” or “You married your sister?” It’s one of the simple joys I get in a tough job.

    • I love all of this, and I’d like to think I’d behave the same way if I was a teacher. I had seen the movie Gaslight many years ago (I wonder if it’s as good as I remember it?), and immediately recognized it as what I did many years ago…

  9. I had to look up “gaslight” too. I was 3 when my sister was born, and before she was old enough to roll over, I hit her on the back with a hairbrush! Fortunately my mom heard the grunting and came to stop me before I did any permanent damage. This was a partial factor in my decision to have my kids closer together, to reduce the amount of time the older one had to get used to being the only child.

  10. LOL! My little brat brother used to bite himself to get me into trouble. I even explained that the teeth marks were too small to be mine or turned the wrong way but I’d still get the beating. I eventually got my revenge on his butt. 🙂

  11. LOL…I think we’re all a little sociopathic when we’re kids–my brothers and I said the most awful things to each other, it’s unbelievable! And when my nephew was born, my niece would drag his pumpkin seat over to the doo and yell “Bye Seth!” over and over, like that would make him disappear!

  12. I love these glimpses into your life 🙂 I’m playing catch-up with blog reading, so sorry this comment is coming in so late. I think I must’ve lucked out being so many years behind my siblings in age. They’re only 2 years apart so the 7 and 9 year old had each other to harass and were probably too old to be mean to baby me. Then when we got older they tricked me into doing things here and there, but it was less mean and more stupid kids being kids.

    Maybe this is why I’m a terrible sharer, too…I basically grew up an only child. There are stories about borrowing books from me, but what it boils down to is not to borrow from me because the stress of not letting anything happen to my book is too much, and then pages start folding themselves! Madness.

    • Oh yes, you were much too young to be in the thick of the torture. My sister and I also had a much younger sister, 11 1/2 years younger than me and 9 years younger than her, and we weren’t interested in torturing her, just cuddling her, like a life-sized baby doll.

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