Life can get lonely here on the prairie. That's why it's good to have company come to visit. In this case, my brother, his wife and one of my nieces (who briefly lived on the prairie with us after Hurricane Katrina left her temporarily homeless). They are very easy to be with, low maintenance and just plain old fun. I had quite the love/hate relationship with this brother (aka "the Instigator") when we were kids. I am the oldest and he was the "baby" at the time, before my sister came along and usurped his place (hahahaha!) - but that is a different story for another day.
My second brother and I were convinced he was spoiled rotten and did our best to torment him. Unfortunately, he decided that it was his mission in life to make our lives miserable, which he did quite successfully. He picked at us, teased us and tattled on us constantly. The worst thing of all was when he would slap himself and make himself start crying. He would call for our mom and when she came to see what the fuss was all about, he would tell her that we had hit him. Meanwhile, we would be playing Barbies or a game in a different room, minding our own business. Mom always believed him and would descend on us in a fury, spanking us and sending us to our rooms for the rest of the day. And there would be the Instigator, laughing at us behind her back. We would pray at night for the gypsys to steal him or for our parents to finally admit that they had brought the wrong baby home from the hospital and return him to his real family.
We grew up to become good friends and I love him and his wonderful family dearly. He still instigates, teases and torments, of course, but maybe I have grown wise to his tricks and can no longer be riled. I am happy to report, however, that about a year before our mom died, we were all visiting by her house. The subject got around to when we were kids, and the Instigator's trick to get us in trouble. My mother had never believed that he would do something like that. Well, he finally admitted it and my mom was forced to face the ugly truth of what a little demon she had spawned! So we all had a really good laugh. And I get even with my brother by giving him really dumb gifts every birthday. This year will be a box of chocolate-covered creams with cockroach centers. Yes! Really! And, being the funny guy that he is, he will love it!
And now, when I am counseling families about sibling conflicts, I hear from many, many kids how they have a sibling who will hit or scratch themselves and blame it on my innocent patient who then gets in big trouble. And of course, the parents never believe them. It is always such a JOYFUL thing for me to validate these kids and help the parents come up with a suitable consequence for the instigator in their family!
Let me close with a baby picture of my brother, the Instigator. Have a great 5th of July (since the 4th is practically over). (Happy late birthday, Mark! Love, Your big sister, Empress of the Universe and Boss of You and don't you forget it).