What It’s Like to Have Four Younger Brothers

Now the story of a regular family who didn’t lose much, and the one brother who had no choice but to sometimes keep them all together.

Joshua Peterken
His younger brother (Troy, 20)
His other younger brother (Flick, 17)
His other other younger brother (Pika, 14)
His other other other younger brother (Mario, 9)

It’s Brotherly Development.

Was it a good idea to start this blog post with an Arrested Development reference? Probably not. Do I regret it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Yeah.

Four Younger Brothers Is a Crowd

I grew up with four younger brothers, which I’m sure you imagine was quite hectic. Well, for the most part, you’d be wrong about that. While literally everybody my parents talked to would say “five boys, they must drive you crazy”, or gave their condolences that my mother had never had a daughter, we were actually pretty well behaved for the most part. No doubt that’s because I was such an awesome older brother.

Sure, we’d fight and annoy the hell out of each other at times, especially Flick, and obviously that is not his real name. But if that was his real name, when I was annoyed I would have pronounced it like Fliiiiiiickka, which drove him absolutely crazy. Contrary to what may be common, Flick was not the ignored middle child, but instead, we all thought he was the favourite. I’m a firm believer that my parents do not have favourite children (although if they did, it would obviously be me), but Troy, in particular, would always complain that it was Flick.

Regardless, we were all super close kids. We’d always play video games together (Troy and I used to hop on Star Wars: Battlefront every day after school) or watch cartoons. To this day most of us have hundreds of Spongebob quotes memorised, so a lot of the time things were great.

But obviously, having four younger brothers came with a lot of responsibility. I remember once when I was about eight years old, I went to bed balling my eyes out because of how hard it was to be the oldest (admittedly, a huge overreaction). I was the first to endure the trials of childhood and didn’t really have anybody to turn to who had experienced those things in the last 20 years. I’d have more chores (which was a pathetically small amount anyway) and more homework from school, which seems obvious since I’m older, but at the time, you just look and go “Hey, why doesn’t my four-year-old brother have to clean his room?” I also hadn’t had a chance to learn life lessons from other people’s mistakes. For example, none of my brothers ever smashed their teeth on a towbar, after riding a scooter down the steep driveway, because they learned not to do that from me. But for the most part, things were pretty good.

“None of my brothers ever smashed their teeth on a towbar, after riding a scooter down the steep driveway, because they learned not to do that from me.”

The worst thing about having for younger brothers was that my parents hadn’t gotten soft yet. Once, for no reason in particular, I cut a hole through a fly-screen with a butter knife. Unsurprisingly, I got in a lot of trouble for that. One week with no video games (none of us was ever grounded, something which I am really grateful for since I already had a hard enough time making friends as a kid). But as we all grew older, the punishments became less and less severe, and I swear that none of the others ever had a punishment go for a week or more.

Similarly, the age restrictions for popular culture became smaller with each child. I had to wait until I was ten to watch Lord of the Rings, and I was super keen for it. But did Troy have to wait until he was ten? Of course not! He got to watch it when I did, which was two years younger than me. How is that fair? I’ll tell you: it wasn’t. Never mind that by watching it together, we had something to enjoy and talk about. He should have had to wait, just like I did. Every time a boundary was set, my younger brothers would carry on and complain, “WHY DOES JOSH GET TO DO THIS THING AND I DON’T?!” until eventually mum and dad broke and let them do it.

Now, to be serious, the hardest time to be the oldest child was in 2016, when our parents’ marriage had some huge issues. 2016 was without a doubt the worst year of my life, and I had cancer in 2009. That is not a joke. It was like ripping off a bandaid slowly, except that the bandaid was superglued to my leg and was also on fire. Literally worse than cancer. Not only was my parents’ marriage collapsing, but my AFL team also sucked after 3 years of seeming like they were headed for greatness. That might seem silly, but it really did make things worse. My footy team winning brought some happiness into my life and much-needed stress relief. But as the Tigers lost game after game, that was taken from me. But I digress.

Me trying to steer the ship to protect my brothers in 2016

In 2016 I had graduated high-school and turned 18, and a large part of me truly wanted to escape an increasingly toxic household. I had a relationship that I knew would work long term (and indeed, my wife and I have been married for almost two years), and moving in with her was something I genuinely considered. But I had to stay, because if I left, who would be there to protect my younger brothers? I spent every day on edge, ready to step up if mum and dad started fighting. Sometimes I had to make dinner or look after a 5-year-old, dropping everything and doing so without being asked. It took a huge emotional toll on me. But I wasn’t the only one being supportive. They helped me too. I’m so grateful to have such amazing younger brothers, who picked me up many times that I felt I couldn’t go on any longer. Perhaps I was the general that year, but certainly, Troy was my second in command. It was hard, but we got through it together.

I am truly blessed to have such incredible younger brothers. While it may have been my job to be responsible for them, they’ve done so much for me over the years. They’re some of my best friends and I’m loving watching each of them grow up.

Troy is currently serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Philipines, and I’ve been sending him emails every week with a Spongebob meme related to his mission. He’s doing a simply incredible job over there.

Flick has a YouTube channel where he makes hilarious skits and gaming videos. I highly recommend his Lucy Saga, which is some of his best content. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCt6vtA78MY

Despite being named Pika, Pika has never actually finished a Pokemon game. However, he has started countless. We love going to the footy together and talking about all things Richmond.

Mario is only 9 so there’s not a lot to say about him, but he is growing into a fine young man, with a bubbly personality and is an absolute pleasure to be around. He can always be found playing either Mario or Fortnite.

To finish, I’d like to leave you with a quote that is totally legit.

“If I had four younger brothers, I think I would turn them into my personal servants so that I could make them manage my blog and social media accounts.” – Samuel L. Jackson, when I asked him what he’d do with four younger brothers.

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