What Might Have Been

Growing up, my brothers were not into cartoons or shows about Barbie or Polly Pocket (whose Alpine set is shown below). They certainly would not have cared about My Little Pony, had those ponies existed back then.

So, since there was only one small TV and I was outnumbered, I got used to watching wrestling matches and any other televised sport, including Roller Derby (remember the Thunderbirds? . . . No?)—and Godzilla and martial arts movies.

Bull Curry. . . . Don’t remember him? . . . Yeah, I’m old.

Terri Lynch of the Thunderbirds

And I read DC and Marvel comic books. Oh and Archie too, but I don’t have any of those from childhood.


So lately, I’ve wondered what my life would have been like had I grown up with a sister—a fervent wish when I was a kid. My best friend, who lived next door, was like a sister. I just wanted someone (a non-parent) to talk to who understood what it was like to be a girl. She was an only child. So neither of us knew what it was really like to have a sister. When we hung out, we rode our bikes and watched horror films hosted by Svengoolie (a show also known as Screaming Yellow Theater and Son of Svengoolie) and crashed into each other ala the Roller Derby.


Svengoolie (Jerry G. Bishop) and Son of Svengoolie (Rich Koz)

I can’t say those activities are what I imagined growing up as the kind of activities sisters participated in. I always thought sisters did each other’s hair and makeup and wore each other’s clothes, none of which I could do with a brother.

Those of you who grew up with sisters are probably thinking I sound extremely naive about sisters. You’re right. And I know the grass is greener and all that. But now that I think about it, I can’t help pondering over why I thought the activities I mentioned above were the kind of activities sisters did.

I am a product of the times in which I grew up. When I was a kid, the women’s rights movement was just beginning. Certain stereotypes about “the woman’s place” had yet to be challenged. Case in point: back when I was a kid, females in sports were frowned upon. Running and playing baseball in the alley—two things I loved to do—were not seen as “ladylike.” Sadly, I allowed the opinions of others to sway me away from them.

Yet no one could dissuade me from expressing my imagination through writing—though many tried. And as I think about what might have been had I grown up under different circumstances, I realize that those circumstances helped shape the writer I became.

So I have no regrets about the past. (Well, one regret—that I didn’t date that guy who expressed interest on the last day of my senior year in high school.) Though I might have watched a lot more wrestling than I cared to watch, I learned a lot growing up with guys. I learned to always look first before sitting on the toilet seat in the middle of the night while half awake (the lid might be up), to take risks (some of them stupid—I’ve mentioned before about jumping out of windows), how to fight (useful during my middle school years), that insects didn’t have to be feared, that a towel makes a good cape. But mostly, I learned that my brothers always had my back. (Well, most of the time.) I wouldn’t trade them for any mythical sister in the world.

Tia Tigerlily is grateful for her Girls Day outings with Marsha Mellow, despite the fact that Henry always tries to tag along.

Polly Pocket Alpine scene from ebay.com. Godzilla poster from mymightymega.com. Wrestling image from mentalfloss.com. Terri Lynch photo from Pinterest. Svengoolie image from the miniaturespage.com. Son of Svengoolie from Pinterest. Other photos by L. Marie. Tia Tigerlily and Marsha Mellow Shoppie dolls are products of Moose Toys.

55 thoughts on “What Might Have Been

  1. I was the eldest, my sister six years younger, brother stuck in the middle – he would have liked a brother. Our friends round the corner had six children, 4 girls. We liked climbing trees and bombing around on bikes and roller skates. I was allowed to wear shorts and jeans all the time. I hate to see little girls dressed in pink, surrounded by pink plastic – or for religious reasons encumbered in black on hot sunny days. And my daughter? Stuck between two brothers she still loved dolls! She has two little boys.

    • Yay! Your daughter sounds like me growing up. I’m between two brothers. And I loved climbing trees, riding bikes, wearing shorts and jeans. My mom wanted me to wear pink dresses, but I rebelled. 😀

  2. I have a younger sister, but we tended to do our own thing most times. Part of it was because we had other friends to play with in the neighborhood. Nicely said on not having regrets and how that’s what made you who you are today.

    • Thank you, Charles! 😀

      There were many kids in the neighborhood who were the same ages as my brothers and me. So that was great. But we quickly learned the hierarchy–older kids hung out with older kids, younger with younger. It was an interesting way to learn about life.

      • We were all about the same age, but we did have a boy/girl division at one point. As time went on, my sister and I would simply be driven to whoever we were going to hang out with, so distance wasn’t an issue.

      • We had a little bit of the boy-girl thing at times. Many times there were boys versus girl competitions. But if a girl could hit a ball, she was usually in with the boys.

    • I thought of you, Jill, as I wrote this post, because I knew you have a sister. 😀 Sometimes my older brother was protective, which came off as bossy. “Don’t date any of my friends,” he told me. I thought he was being mean. But he knew his friends, how they treated girls they dated, and didn’t want me to be hurt by them. But when it came to physical fights, I was on my own!

  3. I was banned from the world of TV and pop culture in general, including comic books. My mother did not even want me looking at comic strips in the newspaper, as you know from reading my memoir. So, thanks, you are catching me up on my “lost” childhood – ha!

    • I’m glad to do so, Marian. 😀 My dad read the comics and helped me learn to read via the newspaper. He also showed me how to draw via the comics. We were very much a pop culture household. 😀

  4. I was [am?] an only child so I just wanted any sibling. Someone to commiserate with about parents and to hang out with. I’d have watched anything they wanted if they’d have existed in my lonely only world. But it was not to be, and who knows, maybe I’m better off as is.

    • Yes, I think you are! It’s interesting how we become the people we are today because of our past. Whenever my brothers annoyed me, I used to wish I was an only child. 😁

  5. My sisters are 11 and 13 years older than me so it was like growing up without sisters. My brother is 3 years older. Being the only boy, favoritism often shifted his way, although I’m sure he’d disagree with that, but my mom told me once that she didn’t want to make the same mistakes with me that she made with my brother. 🙄 It would have been nice to have had a sibling to commiserate with.

  6. I always wondered what it would be like to have a brother who had my back. My bro never cared to hang with me or know anything about what’s going on in my life. Not to sound like a crybaby. I used to long for it, but I’m used to it now and have realized my bro doesn’t have the personality for a close personal relationship with anyone. It’s more sad for him than it is for me. We do see each other when hanging with family, and it works okay.

    My next door neighbor was like my sister growing up. Her mom was my 2nd mom and my mom hers. We’re the same age, but there’d be know way we could share clothes. I’m half her size (in height). We played Barbies and lots of games together. Had crushes on boys together. I’ve known her since I was 7 months old. We had a falling out in our 30’s, and I regret it immensely. But, we got in touch again at age 40 and have been besties again ever since. In fact, we have plans next week. It’s good to be home.

    Guess I’m extra “chatty” today. Glad you have two bros who’ve got your back, especially now that you’re adults. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi, Lori! Family relationships can be challenging. It sounds like you know your brother well enough to know the limits of a relationship. Sad but true. Your next door neighbor sounds like my next door neighbor, minus the height difference. We’re the same age and had crushes on boys. Thankfully, not the same boys. We read Tiger Beat magazine and talked about our crushes.

      I’m glad you and your friend are back in touch and will see each other soon!

  7. Hmm… well, I had two older sisters and I don’t remember hair, clothes or make-up tips from either of them! Lots of books shoved my way though, and music. Lots of teasing, not always fun. But mostly I hung around with my brother who’s much closer to me in age. I did get to be close to both my sisters once we all grew up though, and enjoyed having them then. But as a kid, I’d cheerfully have traded either of them for a new bike… 😉

    Is it weird that I find the picture of Bull Curry scarier than Godzilla?

  8. Oh wow, you have the Alpine Polly Pocket! I have to tell my daughter, who collected them as well. Like you, I grew up with brothers and male cousins, and so has my daughter. Boys run in the family, but I never wanted a sister. I never got along with the other girls and preferred to run with the boys.

  9. I am the older sister, by 2 1/12 years. For some odd reason, those “half” years, half everything in fact, were important. We lived 6 1/2 blocks from school, I was 6 1/12 pounds at birth . . . on and on. Anyhoooo . . . I was pointed out as “the big one” of the two of us, which made no sense as I was the shorter one. 🙂 That didn’t help my self-image, for sure.

    We watched wrestling, with my Greek grandmother who cheered and booed, in Greek, and took it all very seriously. She watched the wrestling and I watched her.

    I wished for a brother, but, did have a cousin, Teddy, whom I may have mentioned before. Ted and I were 21 days apart in age and lived in the same house until we were 5, then next door to each other. He is still like a brother to me, and was a strong support when my sister was ill.

  10. It sounds like you did have quite a childhood minus a regular girl’s interests. Growing up rough and tumble with brothers sounds like it has shaped you to be strong to stand on your own. I did have Polly Pocket, Godzilla, Archie comics and martial arts shows as part of my childhood. I actually wanted to be more like a boy – more tumbling in the yard and climbing trees but my parents didn’t allow that 😞 I think that’s why these days I am more into rough and tumble things – such a rebel 😀 Also I spy Henry. He looks like he’s being ignored lol.

    • Yes, poor Henry! 😀

      Growing up, my favorite article of clothing were shorts. I wore them under a skirt, because I liked to be prepared for anything–a party or turning a cartwheel. 😀

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