Unrivaled Siblings

    But then they’re supposed to be circling wagons of their own.

    I missed the lead-up to my nephews coming near blows with one another. And I wasn’t in the kitchen when my daughter fell to “ratting out” her brother via text.

    But something’s atilt.

    In the Us vs. Them ideal that set off this blog in the first place, our kids are supposed to stay the “them.” And when they cross over enemy lines, even if only for reconnaissance, something’s not right with the world.

    An editor friend who follows the blog and knew of Michael’s ironic help in its development, suggested I offer him his own forum. A rebuttal of sorts, for him and his kind.

    When I threw out the idea, I received a shoulder shrug to the notion of work.

    C’mon, I urged, it could be your very own parents-suck-dot-net.

    But that pretty much says it all,
he assured.

    And, of course, that was the appropriate response.

    What isn’t is silence between brothers or tattles from sisters.

    I could leap to the obvious and pull from the song   –you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone- but that too-far-off concept is likely as lost on them as it would have been on me.

    I was in college when I first got a clear picture that my family might be different from those of my peers. Not in the solidarity they had among their own siblings but rather in the harbinger of their future in the form of their extended families. Everyone back then assumed I had a huge family. I didn’t. But while they had cousins they sort of knew, mine were like siblings. Second and third cousins along were still included in our family gatherings. Bonds that were long ago formed in my family had apparently been set in concrete. On the contrary, their families seemed small –they weren’t- because aunts weren’t talking to aunts and uncles had forsaken their brothers.


    I still don’t get that.

    Family comes first. Those weren’t just words my father said. They were condition and creed. Fact. As sure as the sun. Family before god, before country, before anything else. Always.

    My brothers and I fought as kids, didn’t always see eye-to-eye on our way to adulthood, but there are no take-backsies with family. You get what you get –and you stand by it. No matter what. For my brothers and me, we knew the drill like we knew our name. Family first.

    So when our kids are fighting, although I know that they’ll land where we did, I still take pause. Because I look to the too many others with whom they’re surrounded. Girls who don’t talk to their sisters; boys who can’t stomach their brothers. And I look to the adults in my own life who’ve left behind siblings like neighbors from first neighborhoods. For reasons espoused, laid well and sure. Someone wronged, slighted or slurred. It’s money or rivalry or challenges or lack of support.

    And I hear. Really, I do. There are so many shades of gray that can splinter a family.

But in spite of the rainbow that acts as my Facebook photo, there are areas where gray isn’t my favorite color. Black and white are the only shades I understand when it comes to family. You stand by them, no matter what.

    And whether it’s in mimicry of Joan Baez or Counting Crows or the next generation of singer who follows the mantra, I’ll reiterate the line: you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone….