When I was 20 months old, my younger brother Jonas was born. In a lot of ways, we’re similar. People in my family tend to be quiet and introverted. We both like to study things in great detail.
But in other ways, our personalities have always been different. After my tumultuous first few months, Jonas seemed like the happiest baby ever; he was a lot calmer than I had been.
This continued to hold true as we both grew. One day when I was three or four, Jonas and I were in a room with a door that had a mirror fastened to it (not very securely, as it turned out). Jonas grabbed the mirror, and it fell off the door, shattering with a loud crash! Mom came running to find Jonas standing nonchalantly by the door with a cut on his finger from the mirror, and me crying and shouting hysterically.
“How many times have I told you not to do that?” I yelled at my brother again and again. The answer to that question was zero– I had never mentioned it before– but it was something I had heard people say when they were angry, and I was mad at Jonas for making such a loud noise and a big mess! It took longer to console me than it did to bandage Jonas’s hand.
Most of the time, though, I think Jonas and I got along very well. It was a lot more fun playing and learning when I had someone to share the experiences with.
Jonas grew faster than I did– it was very common for people to ask my parents if we were twins. I heard “No, they’re 20 months apart” so many times that I still often think of the age difference between us in months rather than years.
As we grew, Jonas tended to be more adventuresome and willing to try new things than I was. He was usually the first to try an unfamiliar kind of food or a new activity. In some ways, I suppose, he has been like a big brother to me, though he has never looked down on me as if I were a little brother. Looking back now, I think there are a lot of experiences I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to enjoy if Jonas hadn’t been there to get me to try them.