My Brothers and I

“I am little pieces of everyone I have met.”

I can't count the amount of times I have sat on a bathtub before a night out and watched through the mirror reflection in awe as a friend applies their makeup. Or the amount of times my eyes have focused in on strands of hair, and followed them as they wrap around each other creating a braid.

As a kid I had all the little hair dolls, make up kits and nail polishes a little girl could ever want.

And I loved to play with them.

But, more times than not I was out in a paddock somewhere riding a horse, sitting in a tyre being towed behind a motorbike, picking up horse poo from the stables, digging my hands into Nan's garden with her or hanging off the back of my Grandfather's tractor 'carry all'.

By the time I was a teenager I was already behind the eight ball.

It's not that I didn't, or don't, care about hair and make up but more so that I just don't care enough.

Youtube tutorials bore me.

I read something as a teenager that said "I am little pieces of everyone I have met" and it has stuck with me ever since.

We are made up of all of the experiences and challenges we live throughout our lives, and so importantly, all the parts of people that rub off on us.

Everything and everyone we are exposed to moulds together to make us.

When I think about my most influential years, the ones where I was learning language, thought and emotion, I think about those who were beside me in life. Those who were influencing me, and rubbing off on me most.

My brothers.

The hallway in our parent's home forms an L shape, at the end is where our three bedrooms are nestled.

Ben and mine are side by side, Todd's is opposite Ben's.

Every night, come bedtime, when the chaos of the house came to a close our bedroom doors always remained wide open.

We'd lay awake in our own beds, and talk across the hall.

We had to perfect the volume, just enough so that we could hear each other but not too much so Mum and Dad couldn't.

We played games like Guess Who using teachers from school, parents from sport and distant relatives.

We spoke songs one word at a time and whoever mixed the words up or broke the flow was out. Match. In. The. Gas. Tank. Boom. Boom.

Sometimes, if we fought or laughed too loud the sliding door up the start of the hallway would creak open.

If we were quick enough to hear it, we would fall silent, waiting for the door to close again.

There was always a waiting period after Mum did that threatening check.

"You guys still awake?" one of us would gamely whisper.

Then there were nights we didn't have to be quiet at all.

On a weekend or school holiday, if it were warm enough, we'd pack our things; donnas, pillows, sleeping bags, sometimes a mattress and we'd trudge it all out to the backyard and onto our trampoline where we would sleep under the stars together. (Or until we started fighting and one of us stormed off inside.)

One year, on a scorching hot day (and before Mum had put up the pole pool), Ben filled a wheely bin with water and we took turns to sit in it.

It was the simple things that excited us.

We were given EVERYTHING and yet it's the memories we made that stand out to me now.

Todd made documentaries and horse commentary videos, Ben built motorbike jumps and signs for our horse's paddock.

Together they made a home rodeo with our Grandfather's cattle crush and his bull calves.

There was always work being done, a game being played... there was always a project or activity.

My brothers were fun. They were creative and adventurous.

Growing up it often seemed like it was their world and I was happy enough to just exist in it.

I'd stand by and wait until I was needed for something, be a tester dummy, pass the tools, pat down the dirt jump, open the gate, deliver a message.

If ever given the opportunity to be taken seriously I would do absolutely anything to prove I was worthy.

I gave myself many pep talks in my head; don't cry, don't dob, run faster.

I remember literally being jealous of my younger self when Ben taunted me "you were so much funnier when you were little".

I reflected with envy, what did she have that I don't?

It seemed easy to please them when I was younger, they'd laugh at anything.

I don't remember how or why it started, but they would always ask me, "who's your best friend at Kinder?"

And it would change each time as I looked at our surroundings and come up with a made up name.





They would both crack up laughing every time. I remember laughing along with them.

It's a game that would wear thin when in Primary School, if a friend's name was a bit unusual they'd claim I had made it up.

Their approval was everything to me.

This constant need to be approved by them became something I had to fight against many times later in teenage life.

Ben was the kind of brother who made me work for approval.

Todd was the kind of brother who gave it unconditionally.

Both were loving and protective, but displayed it in their own unique ways.

Todd sheltered me from danger and Ben exposed me to it.

Both equally as important and valuable.

I don't know how our dynamic would've been without two such different personalities.

They balanced each other out.

Maybe that's why they have always been, and still are, so close.

Todd managed to sum us up with one memory.

We were roaming Farm World together as small kids when we ran into a friend of our Nana's.

Ben saw her and immediately walked the other way, I stopped and attempted to talk to her but ended up a ball of awkward giggles and just looked up at Todd to save me from the situation, and Todd, he comfortably chatted her ear off.

He has a way with people.

He's a people's person.

He'll make friends with anyone he comes across from any walk of life.

It doesn't matter who it is, within minutes they'll be bantering like old mates.

I still find myself, in awkward situations and struggling to make conversation, wishing he was there so I could pass it over to him with the 'help me' look.

Ben wasn’t a people’s person.

Instead he would build something, fix something, create something.

He was always driven and motivated with stuff like that.

Even as a kid he built 'couches' out of the leftover bricks from our house.

He set up a little campfire next to it and the three of us preferred that much more than our heated lounge room.

Todd was our keeper, our clown, a light that never dulled.

If ever scared in the night I would run the two steps across the hallway into the safety of his room.

I loved our sleepovers. I would talk to him about nonsense and things that mattered to me.

I'd talk about the boy I liked or the girl I didn't.

I’d talk about everything.

He would always make me laugh, and still does... so hard.

He's humour is one thing I hope he never loses.

Ben, he'd coax me into jumping off a pier, sitting in a tyre while he dragged it around the paddock with his motorbike.

If I had a dollar every time Ben counted to three encouraging me to do something dangerous or adventurous and got to three without me doing it, I'd have been around the world twice by now.

Whether it was going over a jump on my bike, leaping off the Seaford pier or piercing his ear in my bedroom with a cow tag gun, "1... 2... 3..." was always a hype met with a let down.

Adrenaline would build inside me, until the actual act of doing it and I would freeze like stone.

"I can't!" I'd plead, close to tears.

Inside, determination to not let him down, and the fear of what I was doing battled it out, in the end determination ALWAYS won.

Ben encouraged, originally, the way normal people do, with nice words and comforting phrases "it's not even that tall" "imagine how proud you'll be once you've done it" but after counting to three more times than a kid does when they've first learnt, he encouraged the way an older brother does, name calling and abuse.

I think the name calling and abuse worked best, it played on my fear of letting him down.

He never gave up on me either.

It didn't matter how long we stood on the edge of a pier, or sat on our bikes at the top of a hill, the anger and frustration would build, but he wouldn't leave until it was done.

Our childhoods were fun, adventurous and filled with fights, laughter and a whole lot of love.

I honestly think we had the greatest childhood possible.

It is something I will always look back on as a magic and memorable time.

It's partly because of how hard our parents worked to ensure we had everything and more, we were their three IVF miracles and their world revolved around us, partly because we got to spend a huge chunk of it living on our grandparent’s farm with them and mostly because of who my family are as people.

Do you think, as siblings, that you create a bond, or is it always just there?

It is a weird connection to put into words.

Blogger 'Uncanny Annie' wrote of her brother.

"Unlike my partner, he knew where I came from and who I was as a child.

Unlike my friends, he knew my home life, family and the bits I wouldn't want to show my friends.

Unlike my parents, he knew who I was at school, the true details (sometimes secrets) of my life and connections I made"

As my brother's and I got older our games and adventures turned into nights out, getting lifts to and from parties together, mingling amongst the same crowds, music festival pacts, occasionally kissing each other's friends (or, in my case dating) and the odd bit of blackmail.