I’m the second youngest of 5 boys and 1 girl born to my mother, and I’m thankful to have had so many male influences in my life growing up. No matter what, I always had someone to talk to, engage with and get valuable insight from. Whenever my brothers wanted to go somewhere, my mother would tell them “take your brother Cheyenne with you”. Maybe she wanted the house completely vacant so that she could spend time alone with her husband (my step-father) but I’d like to think she primarily wanted my brothers and I to spend more quality time together. J
My two brothers Travis and Shane hated taking me with them because they were one year and 3 years older than I was and they wanted to do what older kids did. I on the other hand simply wanted to spend quality time with my brothers. They were good looking, talented, ambitious and all the girls in the neighborhood wanted to know them. No matter where we lived (New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, or Texas) popularity followed them. My oldest brother Milton seemed like the King of Brooklyn, everyone knew who he was (it seemed) and it felt good knowing that people acknowledged and respected him.
Me, I was the smart, funny, athletic, proper speaking cute kid that everyone referred to as “the little brother”. Always associated with my brothers’ reputation in the neighborhood. During the early stages of my childhood, I would create my own circle of friends, but still found joy in being invited to hang out with my older brothers and their friends. It made me feel as though my brothers were proud to be my brothers, proud to have me around, and proud to introduce me to their network of friends. I would stay as silent as possible to prove that I was able to handle being in such a privileged position and to ensure that I would be invited again.
My mother had her reasons for having me tag along with my older siblings. She wanted to know where they were going, what they were doing and whom they were doing it with. She counted on me for this sort of information, and I was always sure to deliver. That might explain why my older siblings didn’t want me around. Lol. I respected my brothers and I admired them a lot, and I cared enough about them to let an adult (my mom) know anytime I felt they were doing things that would stir up trouble for themselves and for us as a family.
My brothers were my protection; I wasn’t big enough, strong enough or tough enough to stand my own ground at the time. Meanwhile, no one in the neighborhood would dare cross my older brothers. Anytime I had a problem with someone, I would simply name drop one of my brothers and if that didn’t work, I would run and tell my older brothers that there was a problem and they would see to it that it was fixed. My brothers taught me how to defend myself, how to stand up for myself, and how to let know one take away my dignity.
If you can imagine growing up in a house full of boys, you already know there were many physical altercations. Someone is always trying to gain control over something (i.e. Food, a spot on the couch, the remote, etc). If there wasn’t a woman around to mediate, then there would more than likely be a yelling match, followed swiftly by a wrestling and/or boxing match. I was no match for any of my older brothers, but I didn’t back down, and then on top of that I’d be the first to tell mom that I was being picked on when she got home. Since I was normally the honest one of the bunch, my word had more credibility than theirs and my mom would come to my rescue.
Negotiating, debating and fighting with my brothers hurt me at the time, but it helped build my character. Facing my brothers, men who I admire and respect was one of the most difficult things in the world to do. Now that it’s behind me, I can confidently defend myself against any adversary. When we fought against each other, we did so because we didn’t know how to talk to one another as brothers. We looked at one another as competition as opposed to teammates.
My older brother Shane and Travis, who were closer in age fought all the time, and yet they hung out all the time as well. It was clear that they loved each other; they just didn’t know how to show it. As we grow and mature, we learn more about ourselves, which opens up the door for love and understanding. People who are not open to listening and learning more about other people’s feelings often spend countless hours trying to get people to understand theirs. In a brotherhood, respect for one another’s thoughts and feelings are essential to the success of that relationship.
My oldest brother Milton moved out of the house before I could even remember, which made his visits so much more exciting! Sometimes my mom would give us a heads up on when he was coming to stay with us for the weekend, and sometimes she would let it be a surprise. Milton is tall (6’2), always well dressed in the latest fashion and was an excellent basketball player. Forget Michael Jordan, we wanted to be like our big brother Milton Bostock. If we were outside playing and saw him coming down the street, we would run like wild maniacs to greet him while yelling “MIlTON!!!!!!”
Why were we so happy to see him? Because we missed him, we enjoyed our fellowship with our brother and we needed the connection. We needed those special moments where he took us to the park for a few hours to play, took us to the movies, or simply treated us to a soda, chips or some candy at the store. If you add up the dollar amount that it took for our big brother to make us happy, it wouldn’t amount to much. The true value is the time he took to come back home and spend quality time with his little brothers.
As men, we hardly ever express to other men how we truly feel about them. Once we swallow our pride and express to our brothers that we love them, we appreciate them, and that we want to have them around, the stronger the bond will be. Often times we disregard men’s feelings because we assume that they’ll figure out a way to get past their hurt and pain on their own, or with the help of a woman. In a brotherhood, you take care of not only your sisters, but also your brothers. A strong man can build a solid kingdom, so we must continue to encourage our brothers, empower our brothers, and work together.
Right when I started high school, two of my older brothers were incarcerated right around the same time, which left me and my youngest brother Joshua behind. I had just moved to Texas with my sister Jordi and my parents soon moved to Texas as well. I was in a new place literally and figuratively, I didn’t know anyone, I had no one to protect me, and I was a New Yorker living in Texas. It was my turn to be the big brother and protect my younger brother, as well as teach him the ropes.
I took great pride in it because Joshua looked up to me, he respected me and he was counting on me. I was tough on him, the way my older brothers were tough on me, but at the end of the day, it was all out of love. Our relationship wasn’t perfect, but there was a lesson in everything that we did. Joshua and I are 4 years apart and we’ve shared a room at almost every place we’ve lived so I had the greatest advantage over all of our siblings to connect. I would come home and see him playing video games and I would ask “Did you finish your homework?” and of course he would always say “Yes”.
I could’ve trusted that he was telling the truth, but I’m much older and wiser and I used to pull those tricks as well. Call me crazy, but I just couldn’t figure out how he was able to get out of school, be at home for all of 5 minutes and have completed all of his homework. Needless to say, he had lied about doing his homework so that he could play video games; like many of us as children, he was an addict. Lol. Now that I think about it, I bet rooming with my younger brother was a complete setup. My parents planned for me to be his homework checker all along. lol
I didn’t mind checking his homework, or even asking him whether or not he finished his homework. In reality, I wish I had a big brother who would do that for me. Joshua would be annoyed at how I would constantly make him erase incorrect spelling and grammatical errors and get it right, but I assured him, he would be grateful in years to come. I needed for him to get his priorities in order so that he would be prepared for the real world. Outside of our classroom sessions, I let him know that if anyone messes with him, to come and get me. I was his big brother, sworn to protect him as my big brothers once protected me.
I remember back in 2008, I had just graduated from 8th grade and my mom had bought us Seasons Passes to Six Flags Over Georgia. I would go to Six Flags every single day of the summer. And then came the responsibility; my mom said “Take your brother Joshua with you”. Maybe she wanted the house completely vacant so that she could spend time alone with her husband (my step-father) but I’d like to think she primarily wanted my brother and I to spend more quality time together. J
My mom was quite clever, you never knew what she was up to, but in some way shape or fashion, she found a way to bring us all together. Breakfast, lunch and dinnertime was the easiest way to bring us together because us boys had huge appetites and were always excited about our next home cooked meal. Church was another way my mom would bring the family together; we hardly ever missed a Sunday. If all else fails, she would simply say “Go outside and don’t come back until XYZ time”.
My sister Jordi was the second oldest, and the only girl, so naturally we would protect her. She’s smart, pretty, ambitious and has a great heart, and had a close relationship with my mom. Needless to say, I formed an alliance with her early on in my childhood. J What I admired the most about my sister was her ambition, her drive and her ability to create something out of nothing. She would advise me on education, business and relationships, and because she was so successful at all 3, I was all ears.
I would write letters to my older brothers and send pictures, hoping they would be free soon, and my prayers were soon answered. After years of not having my brothers around, one came back, soon followed by the other. Time apart will allow you to see the value in being together. After so much space and time between us, my older brothers were no longer ashamed to introduce me to their networks, in fact, they wanted to be introduced to mine. And I couldn’t be more proud to do so because this is another opportunity I have to bond with my brothers.
I was thrilled to hear from my stepbrother Aaron recently, he told me he needed a suit for a special occasion. I haven’t seen him in years, but that didn’t matter, I wanted to have a closer relationship with him, so I was more than happy to help. We sat, we ate, and we talked about life, love and relationships for hours. Growing up we didn’t see a lot of him, but when he did come around, we were beyond excited to see him because we missed him and our fellowship with him. He was my stepfather’s son from a previous marriage, but we loved him simply as our brother.
In college, I met two brothers from another mother, Kerry and Khayri. We called ourselves “Triple Threat”, we graduated from Texas Wesleyan University 2008 in the same class but different fields, we were all athletes, and were very popular on campus. What I admired about these two brothers is they were goal oriented, intelligent, and they were extremely down to earth. We connected right away through our love for music, food, sports and of course the ladies. J We were there for each other no matter what and remain in constant contact long after graduation.
In life, you will come across many men who don’t have fathers, brothers or friends to talk to, bond with or network with. It’s important to be open and willing to extend yourself as a brother because there are men who are waiting for your fellowship, are missing your fellowship, and desire to have a closer relationship with you. It’s ok to be the listening ear, the shoulder to cry on or provide the positive words of advice to another man. That’s what being a brother is.
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