I received a call yesterday that kicked my brain into a different gear. My brother was sitting with his eldest daughter, Mia, and decided to get me on the phone. She had been making faces and pretty much antagonizing her little sister. Matt called to say, in front of Mia, that he was sorry for some of the rivalry we had as kids as family is forever and friends can come and go.
I love my brother. And that call got me thinking... I believe that there is a hierarchy to relationships that -- beyond faith -- peaks with family. Family can be mother, father, sister, brother, wife, husband, son, daughter, nephew, niece, cousin and grandparents. It's fun to call your best friend your sister or brother but those relationships can and sometimes do come to an end. Family will always be family. Let's put it this way, why do they say BFF (of best friend forever)? It's because often that isn't the case and adding the other F is to make it more permanent. There are also religions that use the words father, mother, brother and sister as a means to show another form of closeness in the congregation that normally wouldn't exist. So I place family, best friends, friends, acquaintances and strangers in that order.
The call also solidified a thought I had the previous day. I had been lucky to spend about 30 minutes with country act The Band Perry. Kimberly, Reid and Neil as well as their mother are some of the most amazingly down-to-earth people I have ever met. Among the things we talked about was the strength of being family in a group. It's easier to pull friends and acquaintances off in the wrong direction but family will always be accountable to family. They can fight each other but, when the time comes, it can also be them against the world.
So, I called my brother back a half hour later and told him to let Mia know that being the older child (as she and I are) isn't easy. Her sister and brother (as well as my sister and brothers) came into this world with the best friend they will ever have greeting them. There is a comfortable feeling to know that your longest relationships will be with family. An only child doesn't have that and are missing that being their own size to imitate, learn from, look up to and grow with. My brother's point in calling was to remind his daughter that, later in life, that sibling you are picking on will still be there in your life and it's good to treat them better now than regret it later. I think I got more out of it than she did.