Growing up the older sister of twin brothers was not always easy—at times it was downright infuriating. I guess I even told my mom after the boys were born and home for about a week, to take them back now.
My parents say I was an easy child. I smiled a lot, slept through the night and I breezed through the twos without an ounce of terribleness. When other parents would complain of sleepless nights or temper tantrums, my parents would listen but couldn’t comprehend. My glory in the spotlight and my mom and dad’s skewed view of parenthood ended after two and half years with the birth of my brothers, Chuck and Eddie.
Whatever my parents previously missed out on, they now experienced two-fold; diapers, bottles, feedings, crying. Then once my brothers were mobile and crawling around, it was hard for Mom and Dad to contain them. They tried using a baby gate, but the boys would have no part of that. Somehow one would hold the gate up, while the other crawled under and then they would switch. As they grew into toddler hood, the terrible two’s became a reality for my parents. When they were three they snuck over to a neighbor’s house and ransacked their kitchen.
My brothers were basically the anti-Kerrie. When I was asking people how I could help, my brothers were figuring out how to destroy everything in their path. From the moment they woke up their energy ran at full throttle. Questions and chatter flowed out of them like a roaring river and drained all the life out of any adults within 50 feet.
Growing up with Chuck and Eddie was at times (well, many times) a challenge. I am happy to say though that we are very close now and I am so thankful they are my brothers. More importantly, they have provided me with an almost endless source of material that I can use in my writing. They inspired the title of my book of essays: Planes, Trains and Chuck & Eddie and the opening essay (which I borrowed a little from for the beginning of this post) is called Chuck and Eddie’s Sister.
They are also featured in my fictional children’s series, The Trouble with Two, which is loosely based on my family growing up. The story is told from 10-year-old Claire’s (me) point of view. The great part about using my brothers as the other main characters is that I already know them so well and I don’t have to embellish too much (they really were wild and crazy). I didn’t even bother to change their names, which they are completely fine with.
There are some events with my brothers that I weave into the books that are actually true. In Claire’s Christmas Catastrophe I have a scene where they boys are playing tug-of-war with Claire’s pigtails, one of them on each side yanking her head from side to side. True story. Another scene where they are eating all the “good” cereal mom bought before Claire can get one bowl is true (and in real life it didn’t just happen once).
In the most recent book, Claire’s Unbearable Campout, I have them at different times asking lots of questions and talking constantly (which they always did). For both books, I went back in my mind to when I was 10 and thought, “what would Chuck and Eddie do” and I created scenes based on who they were when we they young that absolutely could have happened the way I wrote them.
Being able to use real people as the characters makes writing these books fun. I love my brothers and I am glad they are good sports about me using them in my books.
Kerrie Flanagan is a Freelance Writer, Writing Consultant, Publisher and Author. You can visit her website at http://www.KerrieFlanagan.com. The Trouble with Two series is published under her imprint, Hot Chocolate Press.