Whenever I feel the dynamics in our little family are wavering I make us all think about 10 things we like about each other. By 9 or 10 we are usually getting pretty desperate and have to refer to things like 'I like your top' but it makes us laugh anyway!
Last time my son said as no 10 for me: 'you're good with your brother'
We had Easter early this year. Mum decided we would have Easter dinner last Sunday so we could all be together. She'd planned this for a while. Just as we were about to go over she rang and said my brother wasn't coming. He was refusing the leave the house. She suggested we could take all the dinner there and have it on our laps.
'I'll go over and get him' I said
'No, your dads been there trying to get him up for an hour and a half. No-one could get him out yesterday either'
'Well I'll just go and try then'
'There's no point in you having to go over twice. We may as well take all the food'
I could tell she was disappointed.
'I'll go and try' I said again.
'Well don't say that I sent you' my mum said
As I drove over not for a second did I consider that I wouldn't be bringing my brother back with me. When I turned up my dad looked shattered.
I dragged my brother out of bed twice, hugged him, sang to him, tickled him, distracted him and made him laugh till he was in my car. After a false start when he tried to escape while I was driving, he calmed down and was fine. We had our early Easter together just as mum planned it.
I don't spend as much time with my brother as I used to. Last year I was round nearly every day, when the carers couldn't cope with him and my mum was ill. I had plates thrown at me, I had to break up fights when a group of lads misunderstood his psychotic roaring, I'd go and see him in hospital and when he wouldn't come out his room I'd break the rules and just go straight in. I've been to meetings and argued with professionals when they say he's fine, I've tried to find him voluntary work, I've taken him to festivals with me, I've taken him for days out with my son. I've never given up. When my mum was ill and I was on 'suicide watch' at their house I accidently read an email she'd sent that said how proud she was of me for breaking all the rules just so I could see him. It made me cry. My mum loves a rebel.
Last week on the way to badminton me and my brother sat in the front of the car dancing away to Tinie Tempah turned up full volume while my son and 'Grandad' (my dad) sat in the back begging us to stop and turn it down!
I am good with my brother.
Or I am good at being stubborn!