Family Dynamics and Social Withdrawal

Family Dynamics

I wish I could say more about what my younger sisters and brother were doing, the whole time I was growing up.

I didn’t pay close attention mostly due to the age difference. I was the oldest, my next two siblings were girls, the youngest, Kevin, was 9 years younger than me. When you’re a kid, boys and girls don’t usually play together. And Kevin and I were too far apart to share interests.

It was while we lived in Illinois that I let go of one activity I shared to some extent with my father – scouting – and more fully developed my own interests. Stamp collecting for a short while (at the encouragement of my Great Aunt, Maude); discovering authors I liked like Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke and reading all their books I could find; then becoming somewhat obsessed with Star Trek when the original series went into syndicated reruns five times week. By the time we returned to California, and I was doing well in school, I think my parents figured they could leave me alone and I’d be all right; they could pay more attention to the other three kids. Susan was problematic in a few ways. She was the opposite of me in temperament and intellect. She hung out with the wrong kids. At home she sat in her bedroom playing teeny-bop pop music of the era, always too loudly, on her records player. The Monkees, David Cassidy, the Jackson Five.

By the time I graduated from high school, not quite 18 years old, Kevin was 9 and ready for scouting. My father turned his attention to Kevin and became more involved in active adult supervision in his Pack and later Troop than he’d been when I was a scout.

The most unfortunate circumstance in my life, I think, is that I didn’t go away to college. I commuted from home, and so four years at UCLA was like an extension of high school. Coming home every day to noisy little kids and Sue’s loud music and my parents’ cigarette smoke and the TV that was on continuously from mid-morning to 10pm or so when my parents retired. I went into my bedroom and closed the door and did my homework and read my books and wrote my journal.

So no, alas, I did not pay much attention to what my siblings were doing in the years I was at home.