Perhaps one of the best ways to test family ties is to attempt a little fix-up project -- together.
All those issues that you thought were worked out in therapy or with just a few choice words from Mom come back with a vengeance. It doesn't matter if the fixer-uppers working on the project are 21 or 50. It's something about the work effort that creates all the old hierarchy issues that may have been left behind decades ago when siblings stopped being roommates.
Here is the needed formula. Try a home renovation project for your parents, add jobs -- painting, wall paper removal, hanging cupboard doors, whatever -- and make the project bring you into one general area for several days straight.
By the time you are ready for the family fish fry on Friday night, you are ready to be adopted by an orphanage, or go back to your day job.
Differences in children from the same biological material are always an interesting study. Those differences are typically apparent in the very young. And if you had the chance to go back and look at your kindergarten evaluations, you may find that those basic personality building blocks -- things you need to work on vs. things you have down pat -- have not changed much even 30 years later.
So those siblings who wanted that neat room and put a string across it to identify their side from yours also have some work related issues. Perfectionists and those willing to make it work in a restricted time frame are tough to put together to paint a closet.
There is that Power Loon music that someone classifies as noise while another family painter keeps asking where Rush is on the talk radio station. And some relatives took a Tony Robbins commercial to heart with a repeated emphasis on positive reinforcement. Hey, that closet corner you took a gallon of paint to cover -- good job.
It's not that you don't love seeing those people who live hundreds of miles away or just minutes from you on a more regular basis. It's all good. But fatigue and family are never good table manner companions.
If you are the youngest the only hope is that there will be a stray dog handy to tell what to do. Otherwise it's all downhill in the birth order department. The only thing worse than being the youngest sibling in a project environment is to be absent and thus unable to defend yourself at all.
Then family members combine in a "Lord of the Flies" survival scenario of the most present and accounted for. And the fun of the project comes in trying to find all the worst jobs involved in a major home overhaul and saving them for an absent brother -- said to be arriving for a one-day stint on the weekend.
And you can be assured time has been caught in a vortex when ripping off the garish 1970s wallpaper brings the top layer of Sheetrock with it and your 40-plus-year-old sibling runs upstairs yelling -- "I'm telling."
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