Why is my brother such a bonehead?

Sidd asks: Why is my brother such a bonehead?

Or your sister, or your cousin, or the foreign-exchange student who’s staying in your home? One simple answer: Because you’re there.

There’s no reason to think that this person – for now we’ll go with your question and say your brother – would be nearly as much of a bonehead if you weren’t there. After all, he came from the same parents as you, so he would naturally be about as smart as you. But instead he’s always doing things that irritate you, infuriate you, or embarrass you, right? Why can’t he leave your stuff alone? Why can’t he stop telling on you? Why do his friends tease you? Why is he always provoking fights with you?

Hey, you notice what all those questions have in common? That’s right: YOU! If it weren’t for you he’d have all the toys, he wouldn’t have anyone to tell on, his friends wouldn’t have anyone to tease, and he’d have no one to fight but himself. So he’d be fine.

So am I saying that you should jump off a bridge, to make your brother a better person? Not exactly!

I have never had to share Handsome’s house with another dog for more than a day or two. But whenever there’s a dog visiting, we start competing right away. He wants my food, I don’t like him getting petted by Handsome, and so on. But you know the funny thing? After a few hours, it’s all right. We end up playing together, and ignoring the people, at least for a while. Meawhile, the dogs I know who live together in the same house – they might have a little fight every few hours, but most of the time, they get along great. And on cold nights, guess who they cuddle up with? That’s right, each other.

Similarly, most of the time, once brothers and sisters and cousins and all grow through some tough times, they start to like each other a lot. And probably, that’ll be true of you. Most likely, twenty years from now, that brother you can’t stand is the one you’ll call first when something good or bad happens in your life.

See, you two share something in common that no one else in the world has. You grew up in the same house. You had the same rules, you knew the same people, you played with the same toys. Yes, I’m saying that this person you hate most today will very likely end up being one of your very best friends!

So what to do till then? Can you totally ignore what’s driving you nuts today? Of course not. But just try to remember, this will change eventually. And every once in a while, try to appreciate the fact that, at least some of the time, you laugh at the same jokes.

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