My brother’s been embarrassingly responsible for as long as I can remember. He’s the oldest of five, and old-fashioned familial responsibility lay on his shoulders from the beginning.
His shirt was always tucked in, even when he was playing volleyball or shooting his BB Gun. He always told on me, too. Looking back, I’d say it’s likely he couldn’t bear the moral burden of knowing my misdeeds.
He never did anything wrong, so I never got to reciprocate.
That was when we were kids. I never imagined him as a father, then. That would have been weird, I think.
Between our youth and the present day, sibling get-togethers have been sporadic. We’d see each other once a year, if that.
Luke would come home with snowmobiles on the back of his truck, and stories of the Yukon.
His tales were incomprehensible; I didn’t have context.
He’d be pretty quiet, and in the midst of the many other family members and friends simultaneously telling stories, no one ever properly got to know each other.
I didn’t think of him as a dad then, either.
Now, I still don’t think of him as a dad. He’s still my responsible brother — he doesn’t tell on me any more (as far as I know), but he does laugh at my seemingly ever-present predicaments.
He shows me how to do stuff. He met me at his workshop with beer and taught me how to change my oil. One morning before work in the fall, he took me moose hunting. I’d need to practice my moose calls before I could lure in a bull, but I get the idea. He lends me camping gear and gives my friends and me tricks to catch arctic grayling. He lends us his weights, flies, and bobs and says he’s too boring to use all his gear, now.
I still don’t think of him as a dad.
Now, his responsible nature has transformed him into an ideal brother. He says he thinks of himself as a dad. He says he thinks about it every five minutes and it freaks him out every time. He’s still my brother, but he’s also been a dad for about nine months.
George, his son, has commandeered his life.
George is pretty rad. Being an aunt is killer — I remember when I was a kid, my aunts would feed us 7-Eleven treats until we got sick. We’d stay up late and watch raunchy TV, and play practical jokes on our parents — like getting fake tattoos.
George is too young for a lot of that, but I do stick my finger in my beer and give him a taste. I let him try licks of butter and ice cream and cheese, too. I want him to associate those things with me.
When he needs responsible attention either Heather, his mom, or Luke swoops in. I’m left with some kind of treat and no pressing maternal concerns.
Luke and Heather get to enjoy all George’s good parts, too, but their son has shaped their current lives. Luke says he always comes home after work, now. Before, he’d usually go for beers. He and Heather lamented their lost tradition of Friday afternoon beers when we were talking about how their lives have changed.
Luke tried to remember what he thought of before the era of George. He probably didn’t tell the complete truth because it was an awkward question at first, but then he said Heather fit in there somewhere. He says he thought about his friends: “I used to hang-out with my friends all the time.”
He says he’d always be thinking of doing trips for fun — skiing, canoeing, hunting, boating.
Now, he thinks about George.
Hanging out with George, watching him change. He shows people pictures of George off his phone. Him and Heather go on dates, without George, and they end up looking at photos of George between courses.
Luke says soon he’ll be thinking of trips again, but tailored for George and Heather. I already caught him, sitting in front of the fire after George’s bath, serenading his son with moose calls.
George was only a few weeks old, so the kid doesn’t have a chance.