All Sibling Wars Must Come to an End

Despite all of the punches and pouting, our writer learned how to befriend her little brother.

My brother, Harry, and I have always been a study in sibling opposites. 

During my first Phillies game, the visiting team hit a grand slam in the top of the ninth to bust the game open. Dad headed for the exits to beat traffic, young daughter in tow.

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“If you want to be a Philadelphia fan, you have to learn to deal with disappointment,” he said, carrying a wailing me out of Veterans Stadium. 

Harry witnessed a no-hitter. High fives and hugs all around. No hits, no tantrums, no tears.

We shared our love of local sports teams with Dad. Mom was the drill sergeant.

I beat her home from high school one day to find my report card in the mail. On all fours in the backyard, I dug a hole to hide the semester’s abysmal grades. But when a son is Student of the Year, report cards get framed.

“You weren’t bad,” Mom always said. “You were different.”

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“Is he your favorite?” I’d ask.

 “I love you both the same,” she’d say. 

Upon arrival, Harry, with his chubby cheeks and impossible sweetness, ruled the spotlight. When Game of Siblings kicked off, Mom did all she could to make it less bloody than the “Red Wedding.”

“Spend time with him,” she’d say.

So I invited him to join me on the basketball court, where I dropped elbows and practiced driving the lane with Harry as my human pylon. When it was his turn to choose an activity, he picked Legos. It seemed innocent enough—until, just before picture day at school, he selected a perfect brick for swiping at my face. 

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Eventually, though, all great wars come to an end. We’re now allies. I was no match for such a cunning opponent.


Katie Bambi-Kohler listened to “Brother for Sale” by the Olsen Twins for most of the early ’90s. Visit

Illustration by Tom Labaff. 

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