Siblings: Rivalry and Revelry

Siblings: Rivalry and Revelry

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  1. The summer was hot.  We travelled across most of the Southwest that year, three kids stuck in the backseat of a four passenger go cart.  My skin stuck to the vinyl seat.  I sweated and grumbled under my breath across New Mexico. 

    My older sister did her best to keep the peace with the rest of us.  The parental units seemed uncharacteristically picky for the duration of the trip.  I shared a seatbelt with my four-year-old brother, who, with his mop of auburn curls, seemed the epitome of innocence. 

    I knew the boy better.  He was conniving and clever.  He could play the sympathy card like an ace in a poker hand.  He had it all figured out.  Irritate one sister, get the other on his side, and convince our parents to get on to her.  What better way could there be for a little boy to overcome the boredom of a long car trip?

    He started by putting his sweaty little leg on top of my already sweaty leg.  That was torture.  It was so hot and his additional body heat felt like the hand of death suffocating me.  I slapped his leg away. He cried.  I got into trouble.  He waited a few minutes, tried again, this time I was properly scolded.  He turned on the water works, dredged up his best poor baby act from the toddler years, and I was an unfeeling jerk.

    I seriously considered dropping the boy out the back window.

    We survived the trip, of course.  I moved out before he was a teenager.  My children were born as he cut his teeth on driving, work, and dating.  He is now a hard working business owner and an amazing father to a little girl with a mop of auburn curls.  We are great friends.  I am proud of my little brother.

    I try and remember this during the moments when one of my teenagers snaps their younger sister with a towel.  I think of the great relationship my brother and I have as my daughter dramatically relates another story of her brothers’ meanness.  I hope for the best when I think my boys are going to come to blows over some supposed insult in their interesting banter they call speech.

    Sibling rivalry is one of those gray hair inducing habits our children get into as they grow up.  How they conclude that such activities will ever play out well, I do not understand.  Like many aspects of parenting, sibling rivalry is one stressor that is simply endured.  Of course you teach them correct principles, but in practice it is folly to believe that one lecture about getting along will stop the tide of tattling, pinches, verbal barbs, and sucker punches.

    Once in a blue moon I witness a rare glimpse into the possibilities.  It gives me hope that my kids will outgrow petty resentments, hierarchal competition, and plain ol’ meanness.  Watching them all pile into my oldest son’s car for an impromptu fishing expedition should be certified as a miracle.

    One day, my kids will be all that each other has.  Parents, it seems, age and pass out of this life, usually before their children.  I want my kids to be friends, to rely on each other for love and support when they grow up.  I hope my boys always look out for their little sister.  I hope she considers the boys and their dad when she looks for a future companion.  Their dad and I can’t be there for them forever.  In fact, there will probably be times when the kids will need each other to commiserate about their parents’ faults and foibles. 

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