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  • Betsy Singleton Snyder

Love Your Brother

I’m just going to call it. The last six months of sibling rivalry in my home has made me consider very strongly the use of my passport. I’m thinking London in the spring with flowers. Tea with the Queen.

While I come from a big, loving family—I am the baby and surprise of five—I never endured sibling issues such as punching, biting, hitting, and severe name-calling.

Certainly, I endured the much-older, two teenage brothers tickling me under my armpits until my bladder was entirely stressed. There were also a few goofball nicknames, including “Claude.” A girl on the cusp of puberty doesn’t go in for such handles, even if they may sound French, oui? Besides, when you are from the South, and it is not Louisiana, nothing sounds French. Am I right, Y'all?

I confess I lack true Post-Sibling Stress Disorder issues or any coping mechanism that might have developed from extreme rivalry.

You can see why I’m not always sure what to do with four boys who cannot let one another be, not for a stinking minute. Yet I should have this sibling struggle figured out. After all, I’m a plenty grown-up woman, able to leap tall loads of laundry, juggle incredible scheduling feats, and still get my clothes on in the morning.

What’s worse, as someone who prides herself on extracting truth (I am a duly qualified, trained, accredited theologian), my boys’ shenanigans, shaming one another, nitpicking, and random acts of unkindness leave me unable to ferret out the facts. They are the most confounding story-tellers I have ever encountered.

How can such wonderful people, people you’ve known since the doctor put them in your arms, people you’ve fed at your breast and whose poopy diapers you’ve changed; how can they look at you and claim that this latest scuffle is all “his” fault, while three more suggest that the world has never known such a liar?

I don’t know if I mentioned this fact, but I’m a pastor. We go to church. We believe in Jesus the peace-maker. We’ve actually discussed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s use of non-violence and read books about it.

I might also add my children cry sometimes at movies. They love animals and cannot stand to watch Humane Society television commercials. They have a heart for others, and loved packing meals for starving children around the world.

Perhaps there is hope and light.

Recently, one of the triplets remaining pair of shoes was falling apart, so I insisted we go to the Nike store. Even now, he still says he didn’t need new shoes. If I left it to him, he’d go to school with no shoes whatsoever. Actually, he’d go with no bath, donning only a pair of gym shorts.

While shopping among the athletic shoes, I was helping one child get on a pair when my oldest came walking up with a pair he wanted. I asked him if he’d help his other, younger brother get on his shoes.

When I’d finished tying someone else's shoe laces tightly, I glanced up to see how they were doing. Behold, my oldest stood calmly helping his brother with his shoes. I’m sure I saw a light behind them, almost a glow. You could have knocked me over with a Nerf-gun bullet.

I pulled out my phone to see if I could catch the moment because it was everything I hoped it’d be.

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