By Kathleen, #7

We’ve written before about Mom and Dad raising us to love and appreciate each other. However, that extends further than playing games together or sending emails on each other’s birthdays.

We call it the Sibling Fellowship.

As always, Mom and Dad fostered it first.

When I was little and caught Declan or Aidan doing something wrong, I was always quick to run to Mom and inform her.

“Declan’s playing with his toys in bed again!”

For some reason, I hoped that this would gain me ‘points’ or a reprieve next time I did something wrong. Mom always figured out when I was telling her for the wrong reasons.

“Now, are you actually upset by this, or are you just tattling?”

I’d stop mid-sentence and blink up at her. “Um…”

We quickly learned that it was ‘Mommy and Daddy’s job’ to catch wrongdoers and discipline them. They ingrained this so deeply that when we found each other doing something serious, something that had to be brought to the parents’ attention, we dragged our feet.

“Katie’s reading instead of helping me clean the room,” Aidan would say sadly, looking at the floor.

We grew to hate ‘tattling’.

One day, Abby left the windows down in the van after she, Aidan, and I drove to see her perform in a local play. When we left the theater, we found out that it had rained, leaving the seats soaked. Had I been six-years-old again, I would have pranced into the house to gleefully tell Mom that Abby forgot the windows, and now Mommy’s seat was all wet!

Instead, Aidan and I teased Abby about it, but didn’t say a word when we got home. Abby subtly grabbed some towels from the closet and brought them back out to the car to dry the seats. None of us were scared that Mom would be angry, but we still hoped to help Abby escape her annoyance.

The seats didn’t dry by the next morning, and Mom found out, as she always does. Aidan and I admitted that we had known about it and had even covered for Abby while she got the towels. Mom raised an eyebrow and drily remarked, “I guess the Sibling Fellowship was strong last night…”

We grinned sheepishly and went to go lay out more towels.

We all had to find the middle ground between ratting out and lying for each other, though.

When Aidan was about eleven, he committed some minor sin, but fervently denied it. Mom and Dad asked me if he was telling the truth, since I had been there. I shuffled my feet and mumbled that I didn’t want to say anything.

The Right to Remain Silent doesn’t apply with parents.

Dad explained to me that even if I didn’t want to get Aidan in trouble, honesty always had to come first. If they asked me a question, I had to tell the truth.

Sorry, Aidan.

With Mom and Dad’s help, we each figured out how to navigate the sometimes-murky area between dishonesty and tattling. It could have become “Every man for himself!” It could have become “Us vs. Mom and Dad!”

Now, we’ve laid out some rules for the Sibling Fellowship.

Don’t ever let someone else take the fall for your mistake.

Don’t use someone’s long-ago, resolved mistakes as ammo in an argument.

Don’t tell Mom if you’re just trying to earn points; it won’t work anyway.

Have each other’s back, but never lie.

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Copyright 2017 tales from my kitchen table
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