Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Trick of the Teeter-Totter

My younger, older brother thought it was his role to teach me about people. He thought like my mother−that without a little more armor I didn’t stand a chance against the world. It was sure to eat me up. He often took it upon himself to teach me how to navigate with smarts. He was a cool kid and clever. I was a little girl without guile.

My big brother introduced me to the teeter-totter. Where I come from, we never called it a seesaw, except at school. The trick of the teeter-totter is know that all of the power lies not at the top, but at the bottom.

When I first began to ride the teeter-totter with my younger, older brother, I didn’t know the trick of the teeter-totter. He, of course, being a big brother got me in the air and left me up there. I was stuck with my legs hanging, shoes almost falling off.

“So kid, tell me. What will you do to get me to let you down?”

“Mikey, I don’t like this. Let me down now.”

“I could just get up and walk away. You’d come down, but it’d be crashing.”

“I want to get down. Please, let me down now. Don’t crash me. I want to get down. You’re scaring me, Mikey.”

He’d stand a bit, just to show me how it might be.

I was scared for real. He didn’t understand that. I wasn’t born with his take a risk gene. I really had a fear of heights and I didn’t like this game one bit. He was playing, at my end he’d have been having fun. He boasted 200 stitches by age seven. I think I’ll have seven stitches by the time I’m 200. We’re just totally different about what we think is fun, especially when there’s physical risk involved.

The teeter-totter is about the balance of two forces. Those two forces must be balanced and working coordinately. That’s the part that I didn’t know going in. I’d entered into a two-way bargain that relied on an equal partnership. I was supposed to hold my end. He was supposed to hold his. If one guy took advantage of the rules I the other guy ended up a prisoner in the air. That’s a risky thing for a little kid with a risk taking big brother, especially one who likes to make sure that she doesn’t walk into trouble.

“So, what will you give me to let you down?”

“Quit it. I want to get down. Right now.” I started crying.

“Okay, kid. Here you go. But watch out now for big kids who are meaner than me. You know, kid, you turn tears on like a faucet.”

You can’t find teeter-totters on playgrounds anymore. I couldn’t even find a good picture of one.

I completely understand why. I don’t really miss ’em.
−me strauss Letting me strauss

15 comments:

Joseph said...

Hey Liz,

I was the Big Brother on the SeeSaw...

Protecting a little sister is a lot of work for a big (little) guy.

It lasted until she decided I didn't know everything...

Until we grew up and she needed something, then it was time to turn to Big Brother Again.

A Big Brothers work is never done...

I just had to stick up for all the Big Brothers with Little Sisters in the World. :-)

Joe

ps. Your article is up on my blog.

Thanks again, J.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Joe,

Thanks from the little sisters of the world . . . Though I think a big brother's sense of protection provided the big brother more fun than it did the little sister protection. Just an opinion, you understand. ;)

My big brother hasn't yet got used to me being grown up. I wonder whether he ever will.

Liz

Joseph said...

Hey Liz,

I know I still think of my little sister as my little sister...

I think it's something none of us outgrow. :-)

My Motto: Protect and Defend
my Little Sister to the End LOL

Joe

ME Strauss said...

Hi Joe,
I like your motto. I wonder what her motto is. :)

Liz

Joseph said...

Hey Liz,

I hope it's "I can always depend on my Big Brother" ;-)

Joe

Now, I have to go mow the lawn for the 1st time this year.

J.

ME Strauss said...

I bet it is Joe. I bet it is. It probably has the word love in there somewhere too.

Jozef Imrich, Esq. said...

Tou make an impressions in so many ways sunny Liz, with your inocent enthusiasm, your subtle sense of humour ;-)

I can feel a family play coming to theatres near us soon ...

Jozef Imrich, Esq. said...

Ouch, I keep forgetting to spill czech (sic) my comments

ME Strauss said...

Ah Jozef,
You always make me smile so. That's why I'm so sunny. Unfortunately the play will need to wait until I find a way to make money at all of this writing I do. Then perhaps the world can share in the joy of my family.

ME Strauss said...

Hey you,
People from everywhere comment here and I've read English from everywhere too. Don't worry about things that aren't worth worrying about. I love every Czech word that you write--the Aussie ones too.

Joseph said...

Hey Liz,

That sounded a litte Czar-castic...
:-)

Joe

As long as we all have a sense of humor...

J.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Joe!
We're all friends around this campfire. No worries here. Jozef survived the cold war and wrote a book about it. It's called "Cold River."

HD said...

You wrote: "You can’t find teeter-totters on playgrounds anymore. I couldn’t even find a good picture of one."

Here's a picture of one I built in my backyard. And there's other pictures of people riding it elsewhere on that site.

If you're ever through Ann Arbor (not a bad train ride from Chicago ... in mid-June I'm going to Amtrak it from A2 to Chicago to see the White Sox play ... against the Tigers ... yes, I know), but anyway, if you're ever through Ann Arbor and you want to ride a genuine authentic teeter totter, shoot me an email.

ME Strauss said...

Hi hd,
What a wonderful gift that I wake up to on this Mother's day. Thank you for a teeter totter and an invitation to come see one. Thank you so much.
Liz

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