Apart from a kind, loving and stable childhood, the greatest gift you can give children is teaching them how to love and care for their siblings. It’s the biggest gift ever, having a sibling you can count on, whom you can always find a safe haven with. The grown-up world is tough and we all need safe havens at sometime or other in our lives to come home to.

Children have this modus operandi of not listening to what you tell them but they watch your every move with their big bug eyes and they replicate what you do (and say) in their adult lives. They copy the bad and also the good things that you did and how you lived your life when they were impressionable children. The home you created for them becomes the way they live their lives in their adult years.

My children are no different.  They are repeating this pattern, the good and the bad.  Fortunately, one of the few things we did well is family. I owe it to my Ma who loved us unconditionally, raised us with kindness and who dedicated her whole life to building our family home. On the other side, my children’s father comes from a traditional strong family too who prioritised family above all. So put that together, you get children who continue the tradition of family first.

My brothers and I have always been so very close. When I phoned my brother up a couple of years ago and I said “Help, I need a home for two adults and two dogs,” he said “Sure. Just come home, Noggin.” Though he had a housemate Enzo at that time, and Enzo’s girlfriend who stayed over frequently, my old room in my brother’s house was intact. My princess bedroom, even with fairy lights on the wall.

Now, I see that my second son has created the same safe space for his younger sister in his house. He is only 27 but he has made provisions to take full responsibility for his little sister.

“You can go to Southampton University and live here,” he said gruffly to his baby sister who is eleven years younger than he. “But no boys in your room, OK?”

“Not enough space in my prison cell,” she retorted affectionately.

Not enough space, prison cell, messy, nondescript…but nonetheless, it is a safe place for her, a place to call home. And a few kilometres away, her other brother Jack looks after their older sister Kat. The family tradition thus continues with two sets of brothers-looking-after-sisters repeating the same pattern, you couldn’t get a louder shout-out than that ❤

Photographs: My daughter sleeping over in my brother’s house, and her own little room in her own brother’s house.