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O Brother, Where Art Thou…Brain? Part I

July 3, 2013

I am the older sister to two younger brothers. Let’s call them Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, and yes these are real nicknames my parents sometimes used for them when we were growing up. I haven’t mentioned them much on the blog, most likely because I live so far from them now that they’re not a part of my daily life like they used to be. But also because anytime I talk about them, or even think about them, it causes me a bit of angst.

Until I wrote this post I couldn't even remember where these characters are from. Apparently it's Alice in Wonderland

Until I wrote this post I couldn’t even remember where these characters are from. Apparently it’s Alice in Wonderland

Both my bros are in college. Well, that used to be true. But the latest development in Cinderslut’s family drama is that my youngest brother, Tweedle-Dum, is dropping out of university after just completing his freshman year. As someone who has always excelled in school, the idea of dropping out of college is anathema to me. I’ve always secretly looked down at the people from my high school who ended up bumming around our home town because they couldn’t cut it in college, but now I am related to one of those depressing townies!

I do realize that this judgmental attitude is wrong. People have strengths in different areas, and not everyone needs to pursue a 4 year degree in order to be successful. In fact, these days I’m less and less a believer in college, seeing as how many people come out with no job prospects and no more direction than they had when they went in. But still, deep inside, I always considered my family an educated family. And educated, to me, meant going to college and getting a degree, preferably with plenty of scholarships and honors tacked on along the way.

So should I cut Tweedle-Dum some slack? Well, you might think so until I tell you a few stories about just how royally this kid screwed himself over in his first and only year of college. First of all, he failed every single class he took the first semester. Every one! Not just Calculus. He failed English 101! As a former English major and current English teacher, even writing those words is painful. Because seriously, who fails English 101? My only hypothesis is that he simply stopped going to class somewhere around week 3, and stopped turning in assignments. And same with his other classes. I can respect someone who tries his best and fails, but I cannot respect someone who completely refuses to try.

Here’s another story: After returning to school after Christmas, he accidentally left all his socks at home, where he had been doing laundry (as all college students are wont to do over the holidays). This put Tweedle-Dum in a predicament. He was now stranded across the state from his clean socks. Solution…go to Wal-Mart and buy some more? Ask my parents to mail them? No. Instead he went sockless all winter, just wearing his slip-on moccasins every day, sans socks. In the snow. You are probably starting to get the picture that my brother is not just academically unmotivated—he’s socially awkward as well. The combination basically ruined what could have been a perfectly fun and successful freshman year.

So now he’s living at home, and though he’s applied for jobs, nothing has panned out yet, most likely because he has zero work experience, and a 0.0 GPA doesn’t exactly impress potential employers, even at McDonalds. What will he do with his life? He doesn’t know. I don’t know. And it’s killing me.

I actually do think this fresh start will be good for Tweedle-Dum, much better than having him continue to wallow in a place that was just not working for him. I’m working on my judgmental nature and my superiority complex, and I’m hopeful that my brother will find the direction he needs in his life, along with supportive friends like the kind I was so blessed to find in college. But the truth is, this development has rocked me, my brother, and my entire family. We’re not entirely sure how to handle it, how to support him best without allowing him to stay stagnant. The saddest part is that I know he feels bad about himself, but I don’t know how to help. I’ve always been close with and had a special place in my heart for Tweedle-Dum—the one who was young and adorable for so many years while Tweedle-Dee was filling the role of “the obnoxious one.” But telling him what I think only backfires now, because he gets defensive and likes to deal with his problems by denying that they exist (like with the socks, and the classes, and the homework). I feel like I’ve done nothing but worry these past few months, even to the point where I had to have the suicide talk with him, because I feared he might be giving up hope on life. Basically, I feel helpless. And I wish I could make it all better. See, angst! Tune in next time to hear my complaints about the middle child, Tweedle-Dee.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 6, 2013 8:17 am

    It is no secret I love Tweedle-Dee, and still firmly maintain that he’s a late bloomer (like Cindy I might add – you came into your own SO MUCH in your 20s). One day we’ll all look up and be so proud of him, especially now that he has something like this to come back from. I think he’s creative in ways no one else is and lazy in the way that all boys are at his age. My brother failed almost every one of his classes freshman year too and you won’t believe how far he’s come in the last few years. Though I won’t deny he still has a long way to go(who am I kidding, so do I).

    Anyway I totally get it, waiting for younger brothers to mature SUCKS and in the meantime we can’t help but worry. What is Tweedle-Dee thinking posting unsmiling selfie photos on Facebook? I don’t know how to help either. Do you think I could convince him I’ve met his future self and everything turns out awesome?


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