There are few things in life that are known for certain. One is that my brother (bless his cotton socks) is one of the worlds great drama queen hypochondriacs. I should know, I grew up with him. My childhood was spent trying to ignore whichever great medical drama he was having. A slight strain of a muscle results in weeks of limping, or more usually, a pained tiny little voice asking so bravely if we could possibly get him whatever he needed. A possible temperature goes on for days with constant checking and rechecking of the slightly warm brow.
I have to say that living with one of these is tiring. I love my brother dearly, but I don't envy his wife. When my brother and I finally stopped living in the same place (which was later than most siblings as we shared a flat for years) I drew a huge sigh of relief and selected a husband who was not so dramatically prone.
Then I had my eldest son.
I've been worried about his hypochondria tendencies for a while. Worried that life may have mistakenly thought I have not endured enough drama queeness. Worried that my brother had been giving him lessons on the sly. My fears were confirmed on a trip to the opticians earlier this week.
My eldest (who had skipped out of school, scoffed a few cakes and been full of beans and the brightness of life) flopped wanly onto the opticians chair and sighed. He was asked how his eyesight was and (I kid you not) raised one hand to his forehead and managed to whisper that everything was very blurry. The optician asked if he got headaches.
'yes' my child replied weakly 'all the time'. First I've heard of it, and trust me, he is not one to hold back if there is a pain on his body.
The test commenced. The optician had a good look at everything. Put in different lenses into the glasses thing they used. Each one was greeted with a tiny, tired voice exclaiming that it was blurry or maybe that it was a little bit better than the last one.
Finally he settled on the best combination for his eyes, that he agreed (in his very bravest I am so sick voice) was the least blurry of them all.
The optician, who's eyebrows were reaching the ceiling with the amount of overacting going on, signalled to me.
No lenses in the glasses at all. Eyes were, we all agreed except for my eldest, absolutely A-OK.
We went to leave and the boy (who had only just managed to raise himself from the chair such was his exhaustion) LIMPED from the shop.
I feel my brother, who managed to put all his drama tendencies to good use by actually becoming an actor, has found the most exquisite form of sibling torture there is: take the most annoying tendency you have and encourage your nephew to do exactly the same. Guaranteed to make the parents cry.