birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Competition

I had one brother who was 3.5 years older than me, we fought constantly, and he always came out on top. I was a girl, I’m now a 56 year old woman. I did think boys had it better. Boys would tease me and were stronger, it was very frustrating. I once broke my arm hitting my brother in the back. No one believed that I had broken my arm and I didn’t know for sure. It was not much of a break, but after complaining for a week or so my mother took me in for an X-ray and voila! Somehow I was supposed to know that punching my brother straight into his back was a dumb move. How would I know? I was 7, he was 10 or 11. He wasn’t hurt at all.  

He had a skate board, he had braces and headgear. I did not envy the headgear one bit and I was secretly grateful that at least he had that burden to bear. By all other measurable counts he had it better than I did. My dad took him seriously, schooling in Trumpet and woodworking. My brother had little interest, but he did get more of Dad’s attention. I don’t think my father had the first clue what do with a daughter. He had grown up with 3 brothers and zero sisters.  

Men are faster, meaner, stronger, larger, louder. Boys are quicker, meaner, faster, larger, did I say meaner?  

It does matter to me that I’m female. I’m continually trying to prove myself to be as smart as men. This is not because anyone’s asking me to do this, I know that I do it. My husband disparages my “pick me” attitude when I have the answer to anyone’s question. I think this is born out of a feeling that I’m less-than as a girl. I logically understand that we’re equal and we should be equal. We each have stronger characteristics but we are essentially of the same value. I do have a constant need to prove myself, and I 100% believe that has to do w/my gender and the messages that I absorbed when I was small.  

My mother had a career, but when I was young my dad worked full-time, and my mom worked part time. Looking back on it now she must have worked part time to spend more time with the two of us children, but I don’t remember much that we did. She more commanded from the kitchen and told us to quiet down if we were arguing too loudly. Something about her part-time work made me value her career less, even in my little 7 year old mind. Dad was more important because he worked full time.  

I spent the beginning of my marriage worrying that my husband was smarter than I was. Years later, he would stop working crosswords in part because he didn’t want my input, it made him feel like I was smarter than him. Like that would be so terrible. So I spent many a Sunday night trying to appear less smart and disinterested in his crossword puzzle. What kind of man won’t do a crossword with his wife. My mother tells me that my dad loved to do crosswords. He would work them himself, and then ask my. Mother for help with a clue. He would put his own answers in with a pen, but he’d input my mother’s answers with a pencil. She hated that.

First Impression

Hay Bailer with a Hug