Archive for the 'siblings' Category

Hearts and codes

October 5, 2011

When my kids were in elementary school, I remember hearing on the school playground another mother admonish one of her sons to be kind to his brother, and follow it up with the “reminder” that since he was his brother, he needed to be especially kind to him.

I don’t think I had ever heard this notion before, it certainly wasn’t one I had heard growing up.  I had heard to be kind, period.  It wasn’t about family, or even friends.  Maybe the grown-ups in my life then took it for granted that I would understand the limitation to family, but I didn’t.

Having an open heart is not just about being kind to members of what one considers one’s own family.  Nor is it antithetical to following codes, applying moral principles, preaching religious precepts.  To my way of thinking, it’s the reliable lubricant to social relations that work; in contrast, techniques such as superficial politeness and manipulation eventually, if not sooner, exhaust their ability to keep things going.

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Impersonation

September 7, 2011

I once knew a pair of brothers, the older of whom, I discovered, some time later, impersonated the younger one from time to time.  I’m not even sure the younger one knew his brother was doing it.  I guess we could file it under a “lack of boundaries.”  When I’m feeling charitable about it, I can see it as a logical extension of the older brother’s playwrighting  (or playwriting, or whatever it is)  —  he just took it to the next level and actually spoke the lines for the other character, too.  I can also now see, in retrospect, that their relationship mirrored my own sibling relationship in a way, and that experiencing theirs from the outside gave me a new way to understand how other people may experience my sister and me.  In both cases it isn’t clear what one does about it — people who do this sort of thing are kind of difficult to have rational conversations with.  I can sort of look at it in the opposite way instead, kind of like the narrator in the A.A. Milne poem who feels he has to eat Binker’s candy for him — maybe the younger sibling actually helps the older live a life they couldn’t live without drafting along behind them, and maybe that serves some greater good, I don’t know.  Or maybe it’s just dysfunction that has no resolution other than detachment.