Sibling rivalry

Whenever my kids get into it, I am quick to point out that siblings do not treat each other that way. They treat each other with love, kindness and respect. And then I look around to make sure my three older sisters aren’t standing around, possibly bursting into uncontrollable laughter.

Yes, siblings fight. As the youngest child and only boy, I would like to tell you that I was nothing but the perfect little brother growing up. I would like to tell you that, but I would be lying, as there was a reason most of my sisters’ requests to have sleepovers started with, “Can Michael go stay somewhere else on Friday, possibly Peru?”

So yes, I know what it’s like to be a pesky little brother, so it’s understandable that my son comes by it honestly. When you’re 10 and your sister is 12, the urge to scream, “SHE LIKES YOU!!!” whenever a boy in her class is near is virtually uncontrollable.

That said, I’m not going to let big sisters off the hook here. My sisters had their fair share of times tormenting me. For example, when I was little, there was a rope swing in our neighbor’s yard. I was told that if they hooked the rope to my back belt loop and spun me while I kept my eyes closed, when I stopped spinning I would be able to fly. You know you couldn’t fly when he stopped spinning? And do you know who was left in the yard? No one but No Flying Boy.

Or there was the time I was told that if a witch got your finger nail clippings, she could cast a spell on you, which led me to spend the next several years burying them in different holes in the backyard.

You know, come to think of it, I may have been the world’s most gullible child.

Allie will on occasion serve up some big sister torment to Parker. Her favorite method of little brother torment is what I refer to as the “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you did something awesome, too…”

This is how it plays out — let’s say we’re coming home, and I stop and get gas. My kids will always ask if they can get a treat. Because I am a sucker dad who wants to stay in their cool graces, I almost always acquiesce. But to be fair, if one is not with us, I’ll have the other pick out a treat to bring home. Invariably, Allie will walk in the door, polishing off the last bite of a Reese’s cup and say, “Oh, I’m sorry, Parker, I didn’t know you would want one…”

He will stand there with a torn look on his face — What next? Tears? Anger? A well placed foot stomp? Certainly not a shrugged resolve, as that would be too simple for Mom and Dad. Allie will then flip his Reese’s packet to him and say, “Ha! Just kidding!” Yeah, she’s usually the only one to laugh at that joke.

The hardest part of the sibling war dynamic is getting my wife to understand that it’s perfectly natural. She is an only child, so any sibling rivalry would have been just her being undecided on something. She probably worked most of those out peaceably.

I know they will grow out of it, as my sisters and I did. We live in close proximity and see each other on a regular basis, and they haven’t tried to string me up by my belt loop in decades. And since they have grown out of having sleepovers, my deportation to Peru is pretty much off the table.

At some point, Allie and Parker, too, will mature, and life will be grand. As long as she gives him the Reese’s up front and he stops screaming, “SHE LIKES YOU!”

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he can be reached at or followed on Twitter @StandardMike.

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