In honor of National Sibling Day, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on all I've learned from my only brother, Ben. He's four and a half years older than me and married to his badass over-achieving high school sweetheart. He's an economics professor at UPenn Wharton, a fun-loving father to my niece and nephew, and annoyingly perfect on paper, though somehow perfectly pleasant (okay, awesome) in reality. He was over the moon when I pursued my dreams and moved to Portland to be on air, and he and his fam tune in to the Q Morning Show from Philadelphia nearly every morning.

Here we are with our parents back in the day:

Lou, Townsquare Media
Lou, Townsquare Media

"Was he always this sweet?" You may ask. "Heee taught me a lot," I'd respond diplomatically. Pain has no memory, besides the fact that I'm about to regale you a many pained childhood experiences that ultimately instilled some very valuable lessons.

1) You Get What You Get and You Don't Get Upset

As the perpetual "supporting role" in my brother's live action role play (I made a mean Alfred, sitting there in my dad's suit jacket next to a disconnected antique phone) I learned that you'll get the most involvement if you accept the role you're granted with a smile on your face. I used this motto when I snagged an entry level job to get my foot in the door of radio. Sometimes it pays to squawk and holler and take what's yours, but it often pays just as well to graciously climb the ladder and avoid burning bridges.

2) Walk Away When You're Winning

We had a kids' dartboard as a hot commodity in our house for a while, and Ben was notoriously bad at it (it was plastic, with little pegs that you had to wedge the dart into when you threw it; arguably harder than adults' dartboards). One day, he said he'd give me $10 if he missed. I accepted, and he missed. $10 in hand, he offered double or nothing. He missed again and I instantly had $20 to my name. We continued like this, each time my hesitation creeping in as I yearned to walk away the richest 8-year-old in North Idaho, and each time his pure logic and persuasion getting the better of me. Well, you can guess how this ends. He walked away, dart in board, and I stood staring, vowing never again to taunt The House's ability to always win. Yeah, I may never win the lottery, but I walked away from Oxford Casino Hotel just last week a whopping $17 richer.

3) Find Your Own Drum and Beat it

If there's anything all little sisters know, it's that if you try to follow in your big brother's footsteps you're gonna have a bad time. It wasn't long into middle school before I realized my brother was the best at everything (even back then) and if I wanted my fair share of accomplishments I should diversify my portfolio. I took up swimming and choir, two activities he had nothing to do with, only so I could spend my days with figures of authority that wouldn't say "Ohh, you're Ben's sister?" on the first day. I ended up swimming in college and, as you may predict, singing led me to voice acting which led me to morning radio, my perfect fit and a hell of a fun career.

4) Violence Is Not The Answer

I like to think we learned this lesson together. In the midst of the only physical fight I can remember, I had raised a bean bag chair over my head in a wind-up for a head shot and Ben stepped forward, shoved me straight back toward the top of the stairs, and watched as I toppled backwards, landing squarely in the bean bag that had collapsed behind me.

I vividly remember sitting there staring up at his instantly relieved face and feeling our mutual understanding that things could have gone very wrong just then. Somehow they didn't, and we never physically fought again!

5) Show Your Favorites They're Your Favorite

We didn't say it much as kids, but I knew I was his favorite sibling by his actions (and by default). When our cousin tried to get him to pile on insulting my intelligence, Ben shocked me by chiming in, "Her IQ is probably higher than yours." He taught me how to go about cracking codes and we exchanged letters in mysterious fonts. He made an account for me on Myst so I could wander through the library and press buttons arbitrarily without messing up the system he had (journal and all). He showed me I was one of his favorites then and he does the same now by facetiming me with my nephew, sending me podcasts I'd like, and inviting me to his ten-year college reunion with the fam.

Tell your siblings Happy Sibling Day! They're the friends you were born to love, and they're one of a kind.



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