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Once I saw my son dragging his sister through the kitchen tied to a rope and she was screaming and yelling for help at the top of her lungs. “Please, someone help me”, she cried on her way past. I think there were even real tears and authentic sounding sobs. I turned to my cookbook pondering whether it should be cornbread or biscuits to make for dinner, as they went on their way. (Yeah, I do that kind of thing.) She was twelve and he was fifteen. Large children really, and the scene had the trappings of actual pain and suffering, but I could tell as a parent that it was truly child’s play. For one thing, she could easily have stood up and untied the rope. I also have the benefit of seeing this tiger play in the water as well and I have noticed that her older brothers both take care not to injure their sister when they pounce on her or ‘hold’ her under the water. It’s all about showing off and pretending and playing roles. It is play.

It looks to me like a way to test the limits of the relationship between them. It looks to me like a way to learn what a brother will do and what a brother won’t do. It looks to me like healthy relationships based on experienced trust being built.

I am not saying I have any personal experience with this kind of thing but that’s what it looks like to me.