|Holding newborn baby Bryna in the hospital|
As soon as she could sit up, then crawl, then toddle, Bryn was always getting into something. I first realized Bryn was brave when she was probably around 10-months-old. Bryn was taking her afternoon nap while Mum and I snuggled on her bed as she read to me. A thump interrupted us. I hopped up to check on my little sister. Easing her bedroom door open and peeking in, I was stunned to find a happy Bryn sitting on the floor beside her crib, back to the door, playing with some of the toys she'd thrown from the crib. No bumps or bruises, no crying, just a happy baby playing quietly on her own. These capers continued. Bryn went from climbing out of her crib in the day to sneaking out at night. My parents once found her standing beside their waterbed with a fistful of kitchen knives in her hand. The next day new child-locks went on every drawer and cupboard in the kitchen and around the rest of the house. New because my parents had never had to use child-locks with me. "Ali, no. Don't touch!" was all they ever had to say. The one time I didn't listen, after dousing my hand in water as they wallpapered my bedroom, I flung my hand toward the electrical outlet in the wall and received a nice shock for my efforts. It was a quick and efficient cure to disobeying my parents.
Bryn soon learned that the opposite of climbing down is climbing up. One afternoon I went into the bedroom we both now shared, in preparation for a new little baby to join the household, and found Bryn contentedly sitting in the top drawer of our five-drawer-high dresser. My drawer. As I watched in horror, she calmly reached deep into the drawer, pulled out a pair of my underwear, and sent it floating to the floor below, which was already littered with undershirts, socks, and other pairs of underwear. "Mum," I turned and yelled, "Bryna's ruining my drawer! If she wants to play in a drawer she could just climb in her own messy bottom one."
But sometimes Bryn's fearless ways made me laugh. She was half-clown. One evening my parents had just plucked Bryn from her bath. As my dad got her ready for bed, my mum helped me into the still-warm bathwater. She left me playing with the bath toys. Suddenly a shadow fell across the door. Before I had time to figure out who was entering the bathroom, my little sister, dressed in a clean, fresh, fuzzy sleeper, dove over the side of the tub. "Mummy, Bryn's in my bath!" I cried as she splashed, happy as a dolphin, from one side of the tub to the other. When Mum arrived, she couldn't hide the smile on her face. I soon gave in and laughed with her as a dripping, wriggling Bryn was fished out of the bathtub for a second try at bedtime.
As she grew up, she was more than happy to drive around our Fisher Price scooter or car while I hitched a free ride in the wagon I'd tied on behind. Her eagerness to learn to ride a bike spurred me on to learn so that my little sister wouldn't beat me to it. When we took our birthday money to the store to buy a toy, I'd convince Bryn to go to the counter to pay for me. She wasn't scared to talk to people she didn't know, and I was terrified to, so this arrangement seemed to work pretty well.
But little by little, Bryn taught me that I didn't need to be scared of every little thing. I could try new things without getting hurt. I could talk to people I didn't know because people weren't necessarily out to get me. I'm still mostly a fraidy-cat inside, but by watching Bryn for the past 25 years, I'm slowly, slowly learning to creep out of my protective shell, to try new things, and not to spend my whole life being scared. Bryna is definitely the brave one, but there's room for more than one brave one in any family. Who knows, someday I might make it there, too.
--------------------My musings on the prompt 'brave' for Five Minute Friday. Join in next week if you feel inspired!