Brotherly Love

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I was driving Katie to school yesterday morning when a longsuffering sigh rattled forth from the back seat. I shared the sentiments behind the sigh; it had been a pretty chaotic morning, due in no small part to the kind of sibling bickering that makes one seriously doubt the possibility of peace on earth.

“What’s up, Katie?” I asked. Apparently the question opened a floodgate of pent-up frustrations.

“It’s just that Caleb really gets under my skin!” she lamented. (She just learned the idiom “gets under my skin” this week, so I’m proud to see she’s already incorporating it into her practical language. At least, I think I’m proud.)

“Yes,” I commiserated, “Little brothers can do that sometimes.” (In truth, I was thinking of my own little brother, who once cut the hair off my Barbies and then melted their heads on a cookie sheet just to see what would happen. I’m happy to report that he survived his doll-mutilation phase and went on to become a normal, productive member of society.)

I was just about to go into my critically acclaimed “Loving Your Family Even When They Get on Your Nerves” speech when Katie made it clear that she wasn’t yet done with the airing of grievances.

“He chatters all night while I’m trying to sleep, and in the morning he wants me to come down and turn on the light even though his bed is on the bottom and he’s closer! And he keeps saying that his name begins with a ‘K’ and mine begins with a ‘C’ even though he knows that’s not true! And he tries to climb on my back for piggyback rides when I don’t want him to! And he talks while I’m trying to read to him, and keeps turning the pages before I’m done with them! And he copies me! And he follows me around and won’t give me any personal space! And you know what else he does?…”

When she finally paused to draw breath, I leapt into the gap. “I know Caleb annoys you sometimes, but don’t you think you also do things to annoy him? Big sisters can sometimes be bossy and irritating, too, you know.” (Now I was thinking of myself as an oldest child, and the many times my mother had to step in to remind me not to be so domineering of others. I clearly remember saying to her once, “I’m not bossy, Mommy; it’s just that I have all the good ideas!”)

“Why don’t you try to think of some good things about your little brother?” I went on, “I’m sure there are lots of things you love about him.”

Seconds ticked by.

“I can’t really think of anything right this minute,” she said.

“Well, think about the fun times you have together,” I prompted, concerned that I had clearly neglected to nurture this delicate childhood relationship. “Think about the nice things he does. Can’t you think of anything good?”

“Well…it is fun to teach him stuff,” she finally admitted, “like how to create things with paper and tape, and how to make a tent out of blankets.”

“Good! That’s good, Katie. Can you think of anything else?”

“Umm, he likes to watch me play video games. And he’s always happy to see me when I come home from school,” she added. “And also, he gives me lots of hugs (even though sometimes I don’t want any.)” I ignored the little grumble at the end and gave her an encouraging wink over my shoulder.

We were pulling up to the front door of the school when Katie thought of one more thing.

“You know what else, Mom? Caleb thinks my jokes are really funny!” she said, before slamming the car door with a grin.

I grinned, too, as I pulled away.

At least one of us does.

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17 responses »

  1. I think all families need a boost in the sibling love category!
    My mom and I collected dolls…when I found my older brother throwing darts at mine in the basement when I was 5, I picked up a dart and hurled it at his leg. It stuck in his calf and he had to go to the emergency room…I don’t think I even got in trouble over that!

  2. My brother used to pinch the back of my arm really hard when I walked by him, so I’d kick him in the shins.

    I got in trouble one time, when my parents were out, he wouldn’t let me into his room so I tried to use a wire coat hanger to stop him from closing the door.

    Which was the first thing he pointed out to my parents when they got home.

    Sibiling love … thanks for reminding me.

  3. I knew you were, like, eleventy million times better than i am as a human being, but sheesh.

    You’re really good.

    Because after that little tirade, on such a morning, I MIGHT POSSIBLY have let my temper get the better of me and let out a stream of vitriol, outlining WHO HAS ANY BUSINESS BEING SICK OF ANYBODY ELSE.

    I am so totally impressed. And you are SO going to Heaven some day.

    Send postcards.

  4. Ha! Karyn’s comment is hilarious!

    And Katrina – I loved this post. Siblings give us such a crazy type of relationship.

    As for your last comment, what?!?! You mean you’re not GENUINELY laughing at all those nonsensical, impromptu kid jokes????? 😉 That line totally totally made me crack up here!

  5. I remember being Katie’s age and pinching my brother’s cheeks and following him around, sure that he was going to fall off of a ledge and get seriously hurt. I think He must have been the one saying to our mom, “Mom, my big sister is really annoying me lately!”

    Great post…loved it!

  6. I love it when kids go through the joke phases… they can remember so many that make their siblings laugh! Then they move on to another phase!(: Great post!

  7. Umm, Big sisters ARE always right and ALWAYS have the best ideas. There is nothing annoying about them at all. They are perfect.

    That is all.

    🙂

  8. My annoying little sister grew up to be my very best friend because of those times we had together and the memories we share now.

  9. I loved your post, and I love Karyn’s comments, and so here I sit, full of smiles after a call from my little brother that immediately made me call my big sister and oooh family. It truly is something, isn’t it?

    by the way, you are an inspiration to all moms. What a good conversation you had, and how you gently guided her thinking. Well done!!

  10. The last comment made me laugh…we’re in the phase too!

    As for siblings, the 3 girls in my family are all 7 years apart – I was 14 when the youngest was born. Mom always said that though she never planned it that way, she liked it because we each had a chance to be the ‘only child’. But, the sibling rivalry existed, none-the-less! I, being the oldest, was always right, and it took everything within me to get that through to the other 2 🙂 But, even with the age-gap, we were always close. Our wonderful relationship became very apparent when mom died – we’ve each said that we feel like so much more than just ‘sisters’ because of all we went through – together – after mom died & dad remarried! We still call each other about everything that happens in our lives 🙂

    I’m so thankful that I am not an only child and I hope that one day my kiddos will feel the same way!

  11. Truly, your posts are amazing, I just am so happy that I happend upon your blog and your world. I hope you don’t mind, but I have been tagged in blog tag and I am tagging you. If you would like to participate (and I hope you do) because I’m sure there are many other people who would enjoy reading your posts as much as I do, even though I don’t know you or your family, please read my blog to discover the rules, it could open up a whole new world of interaction and sharing.

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    Sandra Eileen

    http://artisan-jewelry.blogspot.com/

  12. Heehee! Apparently I come off as a much better mom on my blog than I am in real life! Perhaps, in the interests of complete disclosure, I should replace the phrase “it had been a chaotic morning” with “I woke up breathing fire and vituperation at the kids, whose yes-it-is-no-it’s-not verbal ping pong match had steadily increased in volume until it rudely intruded on a lovely dream I was having and forced my feet to the floor thirty whole minutes before my alarm clock went off.”

    So, yeah–I’m perfectly capable of my own petty tirades sometimes! But thanks for the encouraging words all the same. I’ll endeavor to be half the mom you guys think I am!

    (Who needs an image consultant? I have a blog!)

  13. I love this post. But the little sisters are the best 🙂

    BTW – I’ve tagged you for something on my blog. Go for it.

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