Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: Oh Brother: The Art of the Sibling Relationship

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Oh Brother: The Art of the Sibling Relationship

Most people have them, some people like them, a few people resent them but no one gets to pick them; I am, of course, referring to siblings.

Brothers from the same Mother (and Father)

I, myself, am one of three. As the youngest and only girl, my relationship with my brothers has taken various forms over the past thirty odd years. There were many times in my childhood when I felt decidedly left out purely by virtue of not being a boy, a fact that as a toddler I was somewhat ignorant; I was known to take a wide stance facing the toilet, squeeze my belly button with both hands, aim resolutely at the back of the bowl and drench the floor when the call of nature was upon me.

However, upon graduating to the pre- school years and having come to terms with our anatomical differences, I adopted and alternated between two clear strategies:

1.  Taking advantage of the idea of my "weak" girl like status

This involved preying on the more susceptible of the two brothers and convincing him that he should allow me to sleep in their shared room rather than abandon me to spend the night in solitary confinement. On one occasion, having been granted admission I casually suggested leaving the bedroom door slightly ajar thereby admitting a shaft of light and appeasing the deep seated terror of being left in the dark and was informed that it must be closed fast to halt any flames that may be in the process of incinerating the rest of the house while we slept. Brotherly love.

We are all friends until someone mentions being consumed by flames in their sleep 

2. Attempting to be seen as "one of the boys"

This method took various forms throughout my childhood but the memory that holds fast is that which led to my first, and only, nickname: "The Crayon Cracker". Upon identifying my forehead to be slightly bigger than the average brow (or a "fivehead" as acutely described by my friend) my brothers deduced that it would be the perfect structure upon which to fracture our childhood drawing implements. This discovery resulted in a series of hard blows to the skull which I bore enthusiastically; numbed by the sheer joy of feeling that I had impressed them and dismissing any concerns with a shake of my, rather concussed, head.

I was in.

Basking in the heat of a 90s British summer

As we have grown up, left home, found significant others, actively encouraged each other to lose those significant others and found new significant others, our trio's bonds have varied in strength (perhaps never quite rivalling that of when I was being physically assaulted) and now each individual relationship is unique in its own way. We may not be the best of friends all of the time but sometimes we really are and the loyalty of one sibling to another is never in question.

The Trio

Where I was one of three and could choose a particular ally befitting my mood or activity, my children will only ever have each other and I can recognise that this has both its merits and its disadvantages. I watch them as they forge, what I hope to be, a life long friendship and I like to think they are well matched. Whilst I recognise that there are periods, when their relationship resembles that of the Gallagher brothers (the younger being Liam, obviously) and I fear a fight to the death for ownership of the toy pram, I feel that more often than not they replicate a Scout and Jem Finch dynamic; happily alternating between squabbles and intense love affairs with an unshakeable bond of friendship holding strong.

No matter how often she has to concede on her favourite toy.

They love each other really

3 Little Buttons
Lucy At Home

Where Do You Go To My Lovely: The Absent Mother

I am as stressed as an anxiety riddled dog on a battlefield on bonfire night. Despite consistently being reminded on all fronts that this ...