I moved out of my parents house when I started college, two months before turning 18. At the time, my youngest brother Shaun was 11, and I wanted nothing more than to get the hell out of that house.

My youngest brother was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to leave. Not him personally, although being six years apart, we didn’t really have anything to talk about and weren’t “buddies” per se. From my perspective, I thought my parents were parenting to the lowest common denominator: I always felt like I was being treated like a much younger child, pretty much the same way they treated the 11 year-old.

In retrospect, it wasn’t really that. My parents have always called me their “trial child” - since I’m the oldest, they try things out on me, and then decide whether it worked well enough to be used on the younger two. By the time they got to Shaun, they had six years of experience under their belts, so they were a lot laid back. He gets away with a lot more than even Eric did, which was even more than I did. Every time I go home, I’m surprised by how much they’ve relaxed since I lived there.

I mention all this because I realized today that Shaun is just a couple months younger than I was when I left for college. It’s weird to think about, since I’ve only seen him a few times a year since he was 11. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing the same thing my parents did to me - treating him like he’s still a little kid, because I haven’t really been around to see him grow up into a near-adult.

Long story short: I’m really looking forward to seeing my family for Christmas. My parents have loosened up, my brothers have grown up a lot since I was last able to spend much time with either of them, and I haven’t been home since June. It’s too bad I couldn’t make it for Thanksgiving too, but whatchyagonnado.