Ask Jono: Staying In Touch With Dumb College Siblings
Hey there Jono~
So. I'm a senior in high school, and my big brother Jono just headed off to college three weeks ago. (No joke... his name really is Jono. The irony is just stunningly beautiful. [/sarcasm])
It was kind of weird at first because we must be psychic alien brain-twins we are so alike. We're only a year and a half apart, and we're bffs. We did a ton of stuff together, and talked all the time, and it was great. I loved my big brother more than anyone else, and he felt the same way. It's been that way ever since we were tiny.
When he left I kind of flailed around the house hopelessly and tried to adjust. We called and talked and texted but he was busy with orientation. And I kept calling and texting and he said he was too busy and that he was tired all the time. So he didn't get back to me. When he did text me it was at 2:38, 3:43, and 1:21 AM respectively, three different nights. I have a ton of classes, so I was asleep, duh. And when I tried to text him back? No reply.
Now he doesn't talk to me at all. And I would be able to accept this, but I looked across the room one night and realized that he was playing an MMO at the same time as our little brother. I texted him two or three more times, knowing he was awake, and again. Absolutely nothing. So I texted him one last time and told him it was TOTALLY COOL that he was ignoring me and I JUST ADORED the fact he wanted to talk when I was asleep, after he had wasted all the normal daytime hours on MMORPGs with strangers. My sarcasm was probably vicious and I didn't give a dang.
I am really mad at him right now for expecting us to be great friends when he doesn't even try to contact me. He calls my parents all the time, but ignores me. And whereas I want to get on the phone and scream WTH you jerk!?!? I am also basically dying inside because, hey, we were bffs.
And he's my BROTHER. I mean, doesn't that count for something?! :(
On one hand, I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer this question, because I'm an only child and I'm just sort of confused by the concept of siblings. If another person who looked vaguely like me were living in my house, I wouldn't think "I hope we are friends!" I would think "Watch out! It is a pod person." On the other hand, it would feel deeply wrong on some cosmic level for me to not answer a question about a Jono. And on the third, um... mutant... hand, your problem seems like it's about a situation as much as a sibling, and I know how I would handle it if he were my brother. "WHY DO YOU HAVE MY FAAACE," I would demand, shaking him by the collar. But then I would also do some other things, and I will get to those in a second.
First, though, I want to point out that going off to college is a transitional time in everyone's life, a time of self-discovery, changing priorities, and fighting internet dragons for like fourteen hours because your mom is not around to stop you. Although I suppose everyone reacts to this newfound freedom in different ways. "I will join Sigma Sigma Party, and I will be the bro who commits the most crimes!" some guys say. "Whoo," say others. "I will play Warcraft. Take that, elf!"
The common ground between these two scenarios is that guys who leave home are finally free to engage in whatever near-deadly levels of negligence they've always wanted to, and this often involves a period of living like Oscar the Grouch, only emerging from of your pile of garbage to say hello to a giant yellow bird, because you have gone insane from sleeplessness and pizza. And in case it's not clear, I once rode the MMO train myself. In your brother's defense, the whole concept is literally designed to reward you for neglecting every other aspect of your life.
It always comes to an end, though. At some point, he'll find himself on the phone with a buddy, saying "No, I cannot go out tonight to meet your friends who are naked supermodels, because I have to fight a dragon on the internet for a 10% chance to get a certain kind of hat." And that will be his "Oh my goodness, what is wrong with me" moment.
Ultimately, I'm guessing this situation is less about being siblings, necessarily, than the fact that he seems more interested in killing fish monsters to collect twenty fish monster gills than in your friendship. That is probably not the case. Sometimes even the closest friends drift apart, and college is frequently the catalyst for that, but I really don't think that's what this is; I think this is just temporary College Madness on his part. Siblings in particular have more of a bond than that. Granted, sometimes even sibling ties break, but the conflict in those situations is always something like "I will never forgive you, because you blew up dad with dynamite," not "I went to college and am lazy."
And that's all this is. Trust me, I speak for all the Jonos here. He's not saying "you're less important than internet elves, OOH BURN." he's just being a big lazy goof because he almost certainly doesn't realize that this is important to you. So clear communication is your goal here, I think. Start by assuming he literally has no idea what you want, then find a way to talk to him about this (with words, not texting, because this should be a real conversation and not a "wth bro?? :(" message he ignores because it's sandwiched between text spam about horny singles).
Be persistent, or force your way into the end of a phone conversation when he's talking to your parents, or try to talk to him at his late-night bizarro-times if that's what it takes. Just remember that this is about articulating that you feel slighted because you care about him; emphasis on that last part. Be clear in saying what it is you want from him, and don't let your pent-up feelings transform your message of "I miss you" into "YOU NEVER CALL AND ARE A BUTT AND I HATE YOUR FAT STUPID FACE AND I HOPE YOU DIE IN A WARCRAFT EXPLOSION."
I know this is asking a lot, but trying to let go of the grudge before you share all these concerns will make the conversation go a lot better. After all, he's your brother, and there's almost certainly no malice in his behavior; if you two were (are!) as close as you say, he'll be shamed into being more responsible through brotherly, uh, shame. He won't also need you to to verbally dunk his head in the toilet and call him a nerd (even if he deserves it).
Once he actually understands how you feel, he'll come around, I'm sure of it. He simply has too stylish a name for it to go any other way.
Do you agree? Anyone else having college sibling problems?
Related post: Times I've Wanted to Kick My Sibling's A%$