Wednesday 3 November 2010

Thought Picnic: Through Sibling Eyes

My buttons are just right

She asked me to button up my shirt to the top, in fact, she commanded me to do that. Immediately, I felt a tone of authority that I did not expect I should have at home.

Indeed, she has every right to see that we are well turned out, something that was lost in that communication was that we also had just as much a vested interest in ensuring that she was turned out well too.

However, that moment had created a conflation of roles, at work she is a teacher/principal, at home she is my mother – the words came out of my mouth as I refused to button up beyond a certain button-hole, I am not in your school, and you cannot treat me like your students.

Understanding each other well

There was a time when the swipe of a backhand would have connected with my face at that daring effrontery but an unassailable truth had been shared, the boundaries of her school authority should not encroach on the moat of existence within which our home is situated.

Having been in boarding school, I was not going to allow my home to become an extension of that regime, I think we understood each other well at that point.

Sometime after, she was prepared to go out and though we did not barricade the door, we the kids made our views known; there was no way she was going out like that (Mama Cordelia was the name we coined for that look) – for the simple reason that we would not be able to show our faces in the neighbourhood for people knowing that our dear mother had made an appearance we could not abide.

We prevailed and she did change into something we felt was acceptable and indicative of the status and air we expected our mother to carry as a mother and a respected member of the community.

In some ways, we had to duty to ensure the emperor did not appear in public in the proverbial “Emperor’s New Clothes”, the case had been made.

Siblings and quibblings

Having shared some deep and secret things with a sibling, there are reasons why that closeness of trust and candidness has been cultivated and nurtured.

As individuals we live quite different and separate lives with varied outlooks to our present, future and for some even the perspective of eternity holds sway – I cannot begrudge the strength of faith, belief, avowal and religion but a question lingers about what the basis of the relationship is.

In my conversation with the hospital chaplain – a catholic pastor this morning, this matter of conflated roles came up with the possible conflicts of interest – you might have a sibling lawyer but should that person be your advocate? If you had a sibling doctor their advice might be very valuable but would they be too close in helping you deal with very serious illness by playing the role of doctor?

Only with sibling eyes

The concerns of my sibling are well intentioned and much appreciated, well read and we are quite aware of the way our theologies differ but we need to be clear about the roles and relationships avoiding the situation where the bonds of our sibling unity are weakened or frayed by external influences that do not define the original affinity.

I crave a closer relationship with my siblings; I had flown the coop long before they grew old enough to know about big brother, if there is any fact to share and understand of each other, it should be clear and simple.

My sister is my sister and definitely not my priest, she need not play that role and neither do I want to play the role of supplicant or flock which just seems to complicate the basic brother-sister interaction introducing concerns that do not engender the ease of communication, just as many relations tend to conflate their genealogy with their professions and confessions creating uncomfortable scenarios.

Sound advice is good but not to the extent that we lose the bond that creates the relationship, I am sure we can just get along fine without the extraneous, the encumbrance and what else.

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