original publication 04/2012

Easter Sibling Rivalry
On Thursday my daughter and I leave for Paris and we will be sitting – well, probably standing – in the nave of Notre Dame Cathedral on Easter Sunday. We will miss having Easter with my son, Mike. They’re a bit too old for sibling rivalry now though it always reappears when we play board games.
Never was sibling rivalry more apparent than on our Easter Sundays. When Mike was two, the rabbit hid eggs all over our back acreage, on the deck, in the flower pots, inside bushes and Canalilies. Dozens of eggs – plenty for two children. Out of 36, Michelle brought back 35 – one had broken.
Mike stood, lips turned downward and quivering, holding his empty Easter basket in front of him. I shook my head. Perhaps he didn’t understand the game. I hid them again, then sat and watched. Mike stood in one spot surveying the yard, thinking, planning, analyzing while Michelle raced about like a whirling dervish, pulling each egg quickly from its hidden spot into her basket that grew too full to carry. I took Mike by the hand and walked him around the yard pointing to spots that might hide an egg. His eyes twinkled for a moment and he moved toward the goal, and just as he reached forward, his sister flew in like a running back, blocked the opposition and scored the egg. My mouth fell in shock, and she was placed on the deck while I helped Mike find a few eggs.
I’d like to say this behavior stopped, but it did not. At my dad’s in Oklahomathe next year, Michelle raced circles around her brother grabbing one and moving quickly to the next. No matter how much I disciplined, she was relentless.
When we moved to Arizona, two new acquaintances and I took our six kids to a large Easter extravaganza at a Scottsdalepark for their egg hunt. Michelle had traumatized Mike to a point of no return. They called the Start and a hundred kids took off. Michelle flung herself into the pack, quickly taking the lead, and Mike stood there stunned and catatonic unable to move a foot. After ten minutes I located his sister, put his smaller hand into hers, took her full basket, and pointed. “Help your brother get some eggs in his basket!” I barked.
I have annual photos of Mike’s empty Easter basket and his sister’s full one. About age ten, when the plastic eggs were filled with money, Mike got the hang of it. Maybe he just needed more motivation than hard-boiled eggs.
Thanks to his sister, he’s still traumatized at the sight of a balloon – but that’s another story.

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