Siblings – The First Frenemy A Child Has

My brother was born a year after me, actually three days short of a year after me, and he dethroned me. In fact, as per my mother, the first word I spoke was “Cockwoch” pointing at him crawling on the kitchen floor. I beg to disagree, it seems a bit too polite by my standards.

Siblings – The First Frenemy A Child Has - Having Siblings

He started walking and became the unwanted and unnecessary entourage that trailed after me everywhere, friend, playmate and snoop. Once we got back home, he would artlessly prattle the day’s doings to my mother and get me into trouble. I could not act ladylike and he could not keep his mouth shut. That, compounded by the fact that Ma liked him more than me (Punjabis and their obsession for making princes out of their male children) brought forth all the pettiness in my nature.

The battle lines were drawn.

As long as I was bigger than him, I pounded him into pulp. Somewhere along the line, a sort of friendship was forged. I was the leader, he the follower and together we made a team. This lasted as long as we hit puberty and then he was more into his gang of boys and I was left to girly pursuits. That failed miserably, since I am not ‘girly’ and books became my friends.

My older son was eight when the younger one was born. Did it avert sibling wars? Oh no! It never does. And it got compounded by my anxiety to have them get along. I interfered and it worsened the situation. Until one day, they turned around and said, “Stop butting in!”

When I stopped butting in, they became awesome friends. And I learnt a lesson, albeit late.

  • Sibling rivalry is not all negative. It is just an issue of fairness and a chance to blame your parents for real and imagined favouritism. Both my sons think I favoured the other. Both are right, I plead guilty.
  • When we are small we tend to think that love is like a box of chocolates, it will finish soon so we got to grab the lion share. It is not. We don’t need to compete, but we learn that too late.
  • Fighting with a sibling is good for the soul. It teaches us a lot about relationships. It teaches us how we can really hate a person, be hostile and aggressive and yet deep down still love the person enough to negotiate a truce and live with him or her.
  • It teaches us to lose, and live to fight another day.
  • It teaches us to plot and plan, wage a war with our dearest frenemies.
  • It teaches us to hide goodies and share our favourite toys – even forced sharing works.

My brother died when he was twenty-one years old in a traffic accident… it was devastating.  All I could think of when they brought his body home was that he would no longer dog my footsteps anymore. I never felt lonelier in my life.

Ritu Lalit is the author of two novels, A Bowlful of Butterflies published by Rupa & Co., and Hilawi published by Popular Prakashan. She is a single parent and blogs at

  • What a heart warming and then heart breaking post…But you have nailed it perfectly about the siblings and wars, and the slow love that develops. I am so sad to learn about your brother..

    • I am glad you liked my post, Prasad Np. It is a loss that somehow one has to learn to live with

  • Nischala

    Ritu – What can I say? Such a heart-warming post till the end. Sorry for your loss, and it is a lonely journey for many without siblings. I sometimes wonder which loss is more difficult – loss of parents, loss of siblings, loss of spouse or loss of children. They all leave a void which nothing can fill 🙁 I say that siblings are your best safety net for life.. And the joy of brotherhood / sisterhood is unmatched! The lessons you shared will stay with me… for a long time till I possibly get butted !!! Thanks for another wonderful parenting post. Loved it!

    • Thank you, and as you say, it is a void that never gets filled. Siblings will always be lifelong companions

  • ronita

    indeed touchy…but a wonderful post.

  • hitchwriter

    As much as we brother’s quarrel when together… I miss them when not with me… perhaps I need to value this more…

    hugsssss… just the post I should have read!

    • Go ring him up, have a meal together. It is fun to fight with siblings and then make up

  • स्वाति जैन

    Ritu, very powerful post. Sibling bond and love is something irreplaceable. I’m blessed with 2 siblings, one elder sis and younger bro. Perfect mix to have best of both world. Apt term used – Real Frenemy….
    Sorry for your loss…

    • Thank you Swati. They are our best friends and worst enemies aren’t they?

  • Diana Natasha Pinto

    Sibling rivalry is all part of growing up and I had my share too with my sister. But since there was a huge gap of seven years between us she always gave into me. All said and done we do miss those fights. It was fun. Sorry for your loss. Loosing a sibling I think is one of the most painful experiences one can undergo. Loved the touching post.

    • Thank you Diana. Yes, it is a huge void that can never be filled. But then I see both my boys get along and it helps a lot in dealing with my own loss

  • chattywren

    Lovely post! My brother and me would fight on the way to school, whilst still holding our hands! I see my two little ones fighting with one another a min. ago and then ganging up against us. It’s a beautiful relationship to experience.