Brian's Perspective: He left the public school for the Arts school where things were supposed to be better. He is genuinely talented and that was supposed to count for something. It took a little while, but he did find a place there. He wasn't the rock star that he dreamed of being where everyone realized what an incredible talent he was, but like the rest of us, he knows those are just fantasies. Still life was pretty good. The drama teacher asked him to join Drama 2 even though he was a freshman. He decided not to so that he could be with his friends. He had a real circle of friends in which he belonged, and that had never really happened before.
And then Gary came along. Tall, somewhat exotic-looking, certainly handsome, easy-going, charming and instantly likable by all. All of Brian's friends like him. All of the girls at the school jump on him like starved wolves on a fresh kill. He initially gets a better part in the play even though he didn't try out. He got it because he looks the part, not because he can act. He didn't even want it, but the teacher, who had never seen him act because he didn't try out, didn't know how bad he was. That situation resolved because Gary really didn't want the part and asked to be given sort of a background part. Still, he just stood there, looked gorgeous and made silly faces and the audience laughed. Brian was Scar. He sang and acted his heart out, and did a pretty good job, and people said nice things, but Gary got accolades for making funny faces.
A bunch of his friends preferred listening to Gary's stories about MMA. The prettiest girl in school, with whom he was friends and hoped to be more, was fascinated with Gary and when Gary was free he took her.
Gary is that guy. That golden boy in high school that doesn't have to actually DO anything in order to be popular. He came along and stole Brian's life. His parents recently are talking all about how wonderful Gary is and about how they are going to adopt him. The state just shows up one day and tells him he can have his own laptop. He signs up for guitar at school and the agency says they will buy him a new guitar. He however is not noticed. He has an older desk top computer. He owns instruments and gaming systems, but that's old news, old stuff.
Oh, and then some of the kids have been forming a band and Brian was going to get to sing with them. Then a couple of days ago while Brian was in rehearsal for a play, Gary hung out with them and they asked him to sing... and Gary can't even sing!
Gary just walked in and took everything that was his, stole his life, and made him miserable. Now Gary is telling people at school that he, Brian, is annoying, a liar and a doofus.
Life has been really hard on him. He could have crumbled, but he survived. He tries to be nice to people, and, it does help that he is attractive. Girls really like him and that's cool but also sort of embarrassing. Mostly cool though. He has a harder time making friends with boys than people realize. They tend not to like him because the girls like him so much, and there is that whole thing where he is good at martial arts. A bunch of them seem to always want to take him on, and that is stressful. He really isn't all that much into sports, other than MMA.
And school is hard. A lot of people don't realize how poorly he does. He hides his quizzes. They don't see his report card. If he didn't have the looks and the ability to charm the girls, his life would be hell. He's going to an Arts school because he perceived that the boys at the big public school wanted to beat him up and he was tense and exhausted all day. The Arts school is a mixed bag. Everyone else there has been in band since they were ten. They read music. They're good at all sorts of things that people are expected to be good at here. He has no idea how to catch up. He doesn't sing very well. He hates to act. He can't draw. At least he was able to get a non-speaking part in that play where he could just make faces and get some laughs.
Brian's friends were prepared to like him, include him in their group, and that was cool, and new. They liked hearing about MMA, which was so foreign to their world. So socially school isn't so bad. Some of the kids are forming a band. He's heard that Brian wants to sing with them, but that isn't going to happen. Brian can sing really well, but he can't act or look like a rock star. He'll just stand in front of the band and sing prettily. One day the band asks him to try out for lead singer. He might not hit all the notes, but he can throw himself into it. They want him because he is popular, particularly with the girls, and can look the part.
The thorn in his side is Brian who for some reason hates him. He hasn't done a thing to Brian. He has always been nice to him, or tried to be. Brian however just wishes he didn't exist. Brian complained to some of the other students about the thing about the part in the play, telling people that he couldn't act. What's that about? He knows he can't act. He never said he could, and he doesn't walk around school telling everyone that Brian isn't good at martial arts. Now this year he is in choir and Brian tries to make sure everyone knows that when he is the one who is off-key.
It gets to him sometimes, and he tells his girlfriend about it. Brian is such a little turd. And yeah, he's mentioned it to some of the other boys, boys who were Brian's friends first. Some of them see his point and they hang out with him a little more. That helps. Other's still hang out with Brian more and he just knows Brian is telling them all the time that he can't act, can't sing, can't do anything artistic.
Last night Brian just lost it. He was in his room, venting his anger, stomping, growling, crying. He finally came to talk to me. I comforted him. I also assured him that Gary wasn't stealing his parents. Brian hadn't said that, but he did start crying harder and held on to me when I said it. It had to feel that way to him. He got some comfort from that. I told him that he was talented and that Gary wasn't always going to be there stealing the spotlight, but that there were always going to be people like around who seemed to get the glory without having to work as hard as the rest of us.
This morning I mentioned to Gary that Brian was having a tough time. He said he knew. Brian was in his room throwing a fit last night, and he couldn't sleep. Brian can be just so annoying it makes him want to scream.
We were all pretty tired but I gave them a ride to school. I told them that they were each hurting the other more than they thought. I wanted them to maybe consider not talking about each other at all today. They were both sullen but agreed.
Gary was texting the whole time, no doubt telling his girlfriend that not only did he have to put up with Brian being a turd to him, now I'm taking Brian's side and telling him just to put up with this stuff and not say anything.
And Brian got out of the car, slammed the door and walked away, no doubt furious that not only was Gary just taking everything, now his mother is taking Gary's side and wants him to just put up with it and not say anything.
I really don't know how to help each kid see the other person's side of it all. Sadly I actually think Brian has to do more changing. His resentment is making things worse for him. And it is not fair that there are people in every place that seem to get rewarded without trying, just because they are tall, attractive and charming. And it is not fair that pointing out the situation just makes things worse for you.
We are going to try to spend some more time one-on-one with Brian. He decided to quit MMA for a variety of reasons. That will give us two evenings a week to be with just him. It is easy for me to end up giving a whole lot more attention to Gary. Brian is more like his dad and both of them do things like quote Monty Ponty and Mel Brooks stuff as part of a converstation. That's funny for a while, but it is not something that I can participate in. And it has always been difficult for me to get Brian to TALK to me. It's just the way he is. We agreed we would come up with some television show we both liked and Netflix the whole thing and watch it together. Not all at once, of course. It will be a thing we can do over time that we can share.
Gary on the other hand likes to engage me in conversation, although he avoids Roland as he avoids most men. He loves that I listen to him when he talks. He is easy to be with, what with all that seemingly effortless charm. He also craves the positive attention, because though he looks like he is sailing through life, he isn't, not really.
I know that the adoption talk has escalated all this. Fortunately the hearing is over and nothing much will be happening for a while. It won't be the constant topic of conversation.
So, what sibling rivalry stuff had you had to deal with, and what did you do? Did it work?
Enquiring minds want to know.