In my Sunday School, those who did so received a handsome Naugahyde bound Bible with their name inscribed in gold letters.
I wanted that Bible. Badly.
I really have no idea why, and I doubt I did then either. Children are not terribly inclined to examine the deeper meaning behind their desires. But I suspect that it was my way of compensating for the feelings on inferiority that I experienced at that church.
We were the poor folks, you see. My sisters, my mother and I wore the same dresses every week, the same kneesocks, the same faux leather plastic clogs with wood grain plastic soles. Our Dad wore the same suit, the same tie, the same tie pin.
Certain other children wore a new, perfectly coordinated outfit every week. They had matching shoes and handbags. And they had leather bound Bibles with their name on the cover.
They sneered at us, nice Christian children that they were.
Anyway....for whatever reason, I coveted that Bible.
So I read.
I read every Chapter painstakingly, stumbling over thees and thous and puzzling over the archaic language.
Unfortunately, it wasn't guided reading. All I had to do was answer a few questions when I was done, for which I received a gold sticker. Who was whom, who did what to whom, what was the moral of the story. If I didn't exactly know, I could usually cobble together something plausible enough to satisfy my inquisitor.
I was not mature enough or worldly enough to extrapolate certain ideals in order to grasp the subtext that is rife throughout that ancient tome. As a result, much of the meaning was lost on me.
But I wasn't after meaning. I was after the goods.
So I received my Bible. And it was wonderful. Oh, it smelled good; fresh parchment, ink and chemically processed pleather fumes. I was in heaven. I carried that Bible proudly for many years. I still have it tucked away somewhere; dogeared and dusty. The binding is cracked and the gold lettering has worn away.
It's a symbol, I suppose. I won the prize, but maybe cheated myself in the process.
Anyway...the point is...
Despite being raised in a Christian home and being made to attend Sunday School every week for years and years, I don't know the Bible as well as some people do.
For example, I know that Cain slew Abel, but I don't know why. I probably did once, but have since forgotten.
So I'm going to offer my own hypothesis.
Cain slew Abel because Abel was so fucking perfect and everything was so damned easy for him.
It's enough to drive a brother to murder, I think, when one brother struggles just to get through each day, while the other breezes through life so effortlessly. It's enought to breed antipathy and contempt when one brother has to watch the other achieve everything his heart desires; to be liked and admired, to succeed in all his endeavors without really even trying, to never stumble and fall.
I believe envy is the byproduct of brotherhood, even if those brothers truly love one another. I believe Cain loved Abel very much. But there's only so much a brother can take.
I wonder, with my sons, when the antipathy will come.
For now, Diminutive One's adoration of his brother is simple and pure, without the complication of envy. But how long will that last? How long can he live in his brother's shadow without bitterness and resentment creeping in.
Already I see signs. And it worries me.
I remember feeling the same way about my sister. She was my mother's favorite and still is. So are her children. She was the "good" one; the one who did everything right, and never screwed up.
For a long time I thought of it in terms of "better" and "worse", she of course, being the better.
But she wasn't really better, she was just easier and more like my mother, which meant that my mother understood her. She didn't, and maybe still doesn't, understand me. I was a challenging child to raise, I think, and I know how that can wear a Mother down.
I get it now. I don't blame my Mother and And I don't hate my sister. On the contrary; I consider her one of my closest friends, my confidant and my confessor.
So maybe, just maybe, Diminutive One won't grow to hate his brother for being perfect. For having it so easy. Maybe the adoration will remain untainted. Maybe they will just love each other.
But it wouldn't hurt if Pubescent One fucked up every now and then.