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     My two - nearly three year old, was fascinated with the live lobsters in the tank at Red Lobster restaurant. We sat and watched them while we waited for our table. We talked about their pinchers and how they pinched things. I thought I was merely explaining a little about the world around him and I didn't think anything about it. Little did I know I was setting myself up for many panic attacks. 

     See, I was 8 1/2 months pregnant at the time.  My husband and I were trying to prepare our son for big brotherhood. We knew there would be some adjustments and maybe a little jealousy, but thought we were prepared. At the hospital after our second son was born, his older brother was the perfect loving big brother. He was gentle and sweet. Then we came home.

     He was still sweet, he just wasn't very gentle. That's where the lobsters come back into this story. Just a couple of days after coming home, He pinched his little brother. I don't remember my reaction, but it probably wasn't very calm. After I regained my composure, I asked him to tell me why he was pinching baby brother; he explained that he had a lobster in his hand. It all came back to me: the tank, the lobsters, the pinchers. How does a parent punish a lobster?  That lobster in his hand didn't learn to stop pinching, until baby brother was about two weeks old. He got many little spats on his pinchers, and many lessons on being nice to everyone.  Just when the lobster was tamed, the illusive imaginary friend came to play too.

     Invisible Ryan, as I call him, isn't being as cooperative as the lobster. He's also being a little more rough. He likes to push on baby brother's head when he thinks I'm not looking. He likes to try to pick his brother up without  help too. Invisible Ryan, in the form of our eldest child, gets to stand in the corner a lot. My son and I have sat down and explained to Invisible Ryan how to be a good big brother. That means being nice and gentle to his brother and telling him that he's sorry when he is mean. 

    If only it was that easy to explain to other people too. In Romans 12 verse 3, Paul writes to the Romans to "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring, one another."  That brotherly love is more than just gentleness and kindess. It is a genuine concern for the well-being of each other. For right now, big brother, the lobster and Invisible Ryan are learning to be nicer to baby brother. We pray every night that God will help them be good brothers. I know they will.

By: Stephanie Lou Stephens
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