14 December 2008

Explaining Family

I always find it interesting telling people about my family. Not that my family is especially odd, but in the sense of, "How much information does this person really want to know?" This is particularly so when people ask where I fall in my family. Do I say I'm the youngest? Usually my reply is something like, "I'm the fourth of five. But I was the youngest until I was about 16." But that elicits questions of "Oh, your parents had a baby when you were 15?" And then I have to explain that my kid sister is adopted and came to live with my family when she was eight. Of course, that in and of itself results in more questions. And it's not that I'm unwilling to talk about it; on the contrary, I find it an interesting story that I like to share. It's just that when the person asked the question, I don't think they were bargaining for quite as much detail as they soon find themselves hearing.

I have the same problem when talking about my brothers. When I say something about a sister and the person says, "Which sister?" it's an easy question to answer. Either "the younger one" or "the older one." But when they say, "Which brother?" I find myself faltering to come up with the right description. "My older brother" doesn't really cut it. They're both older. For a long time it was "the married one," but now they're both married. Then "the one with kids," but my second brother is expecting a child now, so there goes that one. Sometimes I say, "the one in Wyoming" or "the one in Texas," but when I'm telling people about my siblings and where they live, and they say, "Which one lives in Texas?" it's pretty silly to respond, "the one in Texas." And so, instead of a simple answer, it usually ends up being, "The one who is older than me but close in age." Or "the much older one."

Really, it's not that big of a deal. But when it's just a casual conversation with somebody, I just always wonder how much detail they really want. I'm guessing they usually get more than they expected.

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