“Sometimes I genuinely wonder if my children are the only ones that fight. If social media is to be believed, all children (even teenagers) are small angels who sleep, eat, and play on time, and not only wear matching clothing but never create a mess.

Thennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn Cain and Abel come to mind. ‘Put down that rock!,’ ‘Who gave you that spear?,’ ‘No need for that kind of jealousy!,’ ‘Yes, you ARE your brother’s keeper, and not only will you do it, but you will enjoy it!’

I imagine Eve spent a lot of time chasing them down, screaming things like, ‘Put down that rock!,’ ‘Who gave you that spear?,’ ‘No need for that kind of jealousy!,’

‘Yes, you Not only could Eve have genuinely done the deed that went along with, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out!” back then, but I’m pretty sure the entire “eye for an eye” thing would have been legal as well.

Sibling rivalry, to be sure. ‘He’s touching me,’ ‘She’s looking at me,’ ‘He’s copying me,’ ‘She’s breathing on me,’ ‘He’s copying me,’ ‘She’s breathing on me,’ ‘He’s copying me,’ ‘He’s copying me,’ ‘He’s copying me,’ ‘He’s copying me,’ ‘He’s copying me,’ ‘He’s copying me,’ ‘He’s copying Perhaps it’s deluded laughing.

Nervous, commitment-required laughter. We reach a point when we are unconcerned about who is correct and who is incorrect. All we want is some peace and quiet.

Pretend you’re a tree, I used to tell my kids. Simply stand there. Take up the role of a tree. Trees are immobile.

Trees do not converse. It didn’t take long for them to figure out I was lying, and then the tree was suddenly touching ‘hot lava,’ and you know how that goes.

I am the mother of four children. The oldest three got into a fight. They were both bugging each other.

They were irritated with each other. My elder daughter drove my son to school, and I’m quite sure he purposefully sat in the shower for two hours in the mornings just to anger her and make her fear they’d be late.

He once Saran-wrapped her car. He used to sneak beneath her bed and startle her while she wasn’t looking. Everything you’d expect from a bored brother.

I spent the majority of my time presiding over debates. Meanwhile, my younger daughter was growing up, and I was so exhausted that I couldn’t image having to cope with the two of them for another however many years.

But I got lucky this time. He adored her for whatever reason. I’m not sure if it was because he was a big brother, but he adored his little sister. I recall the first time I became aware of it.

He was about 8 years old at the time, and his friend shoved her down.

He never spoke to that boy again after that, and she wasn’t the only one on the ground. His dedication was unwavering, and I knew he was going to protect her for the rest of her life.

She was born with a branchial cleft cyst since she was a bit preterm. They told us not to be concerned unless it became infected, which it didn’t until she was about four years old.

We rushed to the ENT, where they realized they’d have to operate, but first needed to treat it with antibiotics. Nothing was working after several months and several rounds of medication, and the problem only grew greater.

And it just keeps getting bigger and bigger. ‘That thing on her chest popped!’ my son exclaimed one day as he ran into my room. My initial assumption was that he had popped it himself, but it had thankfully just popped on its own.

I took her back to the doctor, who had to lance it right there in his office, and after it was cleaned out and she was ready to roll, he bandaged it up tight and told me to change it once a day.

Yeah, I guess. Ok. Have you ever tried removing a bandage from a 4-year-old who believes it will harm her? It’s like giving a cat a bath. I sat her on the counter and tried everything I could think of.

Treats, incentives, magic powder, money, hugs, kisses – everything you can think of to get me to remove it and replace it. She was having none of it, and to be fair, the doctor’s bandage was practically cemented on.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I knew I needed to get it off my chest.

I’m not sure how long she had been screaming when my son came in, but the moment he did, he knew he had to intervene. He reached for a bandage on the counter and asked her a simple question.

‘Will you let Mom take off your bandage if I put it on me and let you take it off?’

She thought about it for a moment before nodding in agreement. He handed her the bandage after opening it. She applied it to him. She put a lot of pressure on it. She double-checked that it was as secure as hers.

He gave her a friendly smile and told her to tear it off. He didn’t flinch when she did.

When it was her turn, she took a deep breath and looked at me. I delicately removed her hand from his grip, cleansed her wound, and applied a new bandage.

Even when she was frightened about having a shot during her check-up a few years later, he never wavered in his support for her.

So he stepped up and took his shot first, promising to wear a sparkly bandage all day if she just took her injection and didn’t weep. That’s what brothers are supposed to do, after all. They’re expected to keep an eye on their sisters and make sure they don’t cry.

Her father died three years ago. She was 13 years old at the time. It was perhaps the saddest time in a little girl’s life to lose the father who was meant to protect her throughout her life.

Her brother had already decided to enlist in the military. Everyone who promised to be there for her as she got older vanished. I assumed my son had forgotten about her as well until a gift appeared on the doorstep one day.

It was, of course, a phony ankle bracelet. He was, of course, still on the lookout for her. They FaceTimed every day, of course.

He wasn’t going to leave her alone, of course. Even if he couldn’t be in the same room as her. He would never abandon her. That’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

You’ll find the one who has never left you alone if you look hard enough. I understand how difficult it is to see at times, especially if you are grieving. Take a deep breath and relax. Close your eyes for a moment. Open the doors and have a peek around. Your individual has arrived. They’re there, I promise. You’re not on your own.”

The story and photos: Courtesy of Diana Register