For the first couple years of my life, I was happily content to be the reigning princess of the household. Just a few months after I turned two, a newcomer was foisted upon me. At first it was fun to have my very own living, breathing baby doll. That was before I realized what a pain baby brothers were.
And, to be honest, Ricky was a bit of a pain. I’ve often heard the story of how he came home from the hospital with his entire head misshapen and bruised. Apparently, the doctor decided that he was taking too long to be born and helped out with a pair of forceps. It’s been theorized that most of his troubles stemmed from that.
One of my earliest memories of my brother is of translating for him. He would talk up a blue streak and then get frustrated because hardly anyone could understand him. For some reason, I almost always knew what he was trying to say and would decipher his words for the adults. Ricky was soon enrolled in Tiny Tots and speech therapy classes for the extra help he needed.
When he was old enough to start going to regular school, Ricky was thrilled. He loved being around people and to be a “big kid” like his wonderful sister. It didn’t take too long to figure out that school wasn’t going to be as wonderful as he thought it would be. He couldn’t seem to understand all the concepts that the other kids were learning with ease. He seemed to have trouble fitting in. Every night at the dinner table, Ricky would regale us with tales of who he got in fights that day at school.
More testing revealed that he was hyperactive and dyslexic. In today’s world, he would have been filled with Ritalin and sent on his way. I don’t know if it was a choice my parents made or if the drugs simply weren’t available, but my they chose a different sort of treatment. We became a “Feingold Family”. Basically, the Feingold Diet was a way of eating more natural and pure foods. No preservatives, additives or artificial flavors or colors. It was tough. I can remember my mom making our own catsup and mayo. She baked bread and even hamburger buns! It was a lot of work on her part, but it made such a difference. We could always tell when my brother had eaten something he wasn’t supposed to. The sweet little boy became a monster! (OK, he wasn’t exactly sweet, but he wasn’t quite rotten when he was on the diet!)
As for the dyslexia, my parents had learned about something called the Slingerland Program at a local school. This used a whole body approach that helped kids somehow turn the letters around in their heads. (This is just my perception, I wasn’t really a part of it. I can just remember Ricky drawing a huge letter “A” in the air using his whole arm and reciting the sounds that it made.)
As he got older, my brother didn’t stay on the diet nearly as well as he should have. There were so many wonderful treats out there tempting him, and with his huge sweet tooth, he just couldn’t resist. Between a combination of that, and just going through his teen years, he was a bit of a nightmare. As he reminded me in the comments yesterday, it got to the point where my dad had to go to the junior high school with him to help get him under control. (Embarrassment works!)
Despite the prediction that Ricky wouldn’t even finish high school, he managed to put himself through college. He’s found a career that he loves and a beautiful wife that he loves even more. To complete things, they adopted the second most adorable girls in the world last year.
He may still be a big huge pain (what brother isn’t?) but I’m proud of my baby brother. His road hasn’t been easy, but he’s “done good”!