The Truth, Mainly - 09/26/1994

SROGS threatens the balance of nature
by Leon Satterfield

It wasn't until I learned I'm about to become a great uncle yet again that I formulated my theory—too late to bring to the UN population conference in Cairo. But some good may yet be done. Here's what I know:

We'll never really control population growth until we come up with a cure for SROGS (Sibling Rivalry of Grandparents Syndrome).

UN researchers already know that GP (Grandparent Pressure) ranks right up there with GR (General Randiness) as a leading cause of BTAAWTOATMB (Births That Aren't As Well Thought Out As They Might Be).

It's a well-documented fact that GF (Grandparenting Frenzy) sets in during the sixth decade of the life cycle of TGs (Thwarted Grandparents). GF results in irrational displays of Grandparent Pressure: for example, while watching holiday football games with their offspring, TGs might click on the Michelin ads they videotaped earlier. You know—the ones with those fat little babies sitting inside Michelin tires and looking like they want you to chuck them under their fat little chins and say "Hey there. Hey."

But that's old news.

And you don't have to be a UN expert to know about SRAAA (Sibling Rivalry Among the Awkwardly Aging). Say you call an awkwardly aging brother in Houston to tell him how funny your puppy is when he squats to pee on a front-page story about the senior senator from Texas.

"That pansy pup of yours still squats ?" this brother might ask. "Why, our pup, who's a month younger than yours, has been lifting his leg for a week now."

You get the idea. Nothing new there, either.

But what I now understand—and what UN experts don't—is that fusing GP and SRAAA results in SROGS, a combination as symbiotic as match and gunpowder, and little population explosions detonate across the globe.

It's taken me a while to catch on to it because I myself outgrew sibling rivalry a long time ago. My three awkwardly aging sisters, sad to say, have not.

I detected SRAAA symptoms when I called a couple of years ago to tell them about the births of my two grandbabies, Lovely Little Leslie Jo the Wonder Child, and Mari the Marvelous.

"I'm a grandfather," I told them when Leslie Jo was born to my older son's wife. "Neener, neener, neener."

Then before my sisters could even begin to apply retributive pressure to their children, Mari was born to my daughter and son-in-law.

"I'm a grandfather again, " I told my sisters. "I have two little baby granddaughters and you don't."

"I do," my older sister said. "I have two granddaughters too."

"Yes," I said, "but your granddaughters are adolescents. Mine are little baby girls that I can chuck under their fat little chins while I say 'Hey. Hey there.'"

"Of course you have two little baby granddaughters," my middle sister said. "You always get what you want. Mama liked you best because you're the boy."

"My dog lifts his leg," my younger sister said. "Yours still squats."

I'd get the same response when I'd call with the latest Baby Bulletins.

"My granddaughters are talking," I'd tell my sisters. "Want to know what they can say?"

"My granddaughters haven't quit talking since 1982," my older sister would say.

"Yes," I'd say, "but my granddaughters are toddlers. They talk and toddle at the same time. It's a wonderful combination."

That was too much. Massive—and wanton—retaliation began nine months later. My older sister called to say her son's wife just had a little baby boy.

"I suppose little baby boys are all right," I said. "Did I tell you our little granddaughters sit on their little potty chairs and sing little songs? I don't suppose little baby boys do that."

Then about six weeks later, my younger sister called to say her daughter and son-in-law just had a little baby boy too.

"Named Arlo," she said. "After Arlo Guthrie, and he's cute as all get out."

"My dog can climb a chainlink fence," I said, "and he's only got one eye."

Then just last week, my middle sister—who's been pretty put out ever since my younger sister cut in line ahead of her—called to say that her son's wife is pregnant, and even though I was always spoiled rotten because I was the boy, now she's going to get to have a grandbaby too.

"I have two grandbabies," I reminded her.

"Maybe it'll be twins," she said. "Or triplets. Maybe it'll be four little toddlers like those babies in 'Raising Arizona.' What would you say to that?"

Ecologically irresponsible, I'd say. My sisters are out of control. The UN's RRST (Reproductive Restraint Swat Team) should step in before it's too late.

If they don't, I'm going to have to play hard ball. I'm going to have to send our younger son and his sweetie pie my videotapes of the Michelin ads.


Satterfield is a college professor and writes as a means of discovery.

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