My little brother was five years younger than me, and he was a P.E.S.T.
But I was a beast to him.
There was the time my friends were over, and he just wanted to play with us. I remember him begging at my bedroom door and using his foot to keep the door from slamming in his face.
Then there were the times when mom and dad would leave me “in charge” of him, and I remember screaming at him. Screaming.
Every little thing he did annoyed me, and I was cold in return.
One day I grew up and turned around to see my little brother was wonderful. Filled with remorse for how I treated him when we were younger, I apologized.
When I became the mother of one girl and then one boy, I absolutely determined that my kids would love each other and be kind to teach other. Always I kept in my mind how horribly I had treated my little brother, and I didn’t want my kids to act that way toward each other.
When my girl was fuming because her brother was copying her artwork –He always copies what I draw, she said –I told her copying is a form of flattery.
I kept teaching the one kid to appreciate the other.
Because we need each other. A brother needs a sister and vice versa, and there’s a value in our siblings that we sometimes don’t even discover until several decades down the road.
Like that little pest of a brother I had? When my dad had a cardiac event on a snowmobile this winter, my brother spent an hour doing CPR on him, and then he got dad down off the mountain. He paid for my plane ticket to come to the funeral. He held me when I sobbed with grief. That little pest has tenderly cared for my mom and has watched over me, to the point that I have declared him a hero.
I didn’t know that when my brother was seven years old he was really Clark Kent.
She chose her brother.
Man of honor, that is.
And having him stand up with her was one of the great delights of her wedding day. She thinks he’s awesome, and she says so out loud all the time.
I remember back to her exasperation when he insisted on drawing what she was drawing –and the work I did in that moment to help her love him.
The work of a hundred little moments add up.
Intervening. Rebuking. Correcting.
A mom’s job is to enforce that one sibling values another, until those little turkeys catch a clue and see that value for themselves.
Do you know what my girl bought her brother for his birthday this year? Paints and canvas, although he’s all grown up now and can think of what to draw for himself.
I heard them laughing while they both painted their own pictures –the sound of two people who enjoy being with one another.
In a kajillion little ways I failed as a mom. Failed to play enough. Failed to make dinner enough. Failed to always say the right thing.
But for about 17 years I did pray over these two and taught them to love each other.
Come wedding day I celebrated not only a beautiful marriage but also the rich affection of siblings.
~ Christy Fitzwater
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