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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sibling love surfaces in many different ways

By Ka'ohua Lucas

"No, you're a dummy!" my 12-year-old shouted at his older brother.

"If I'm a dummy, what are you?" the 16-year-old smirked, flicking his younger brother's ear.

"Kanoa, quit irritating your brother," I said frazzled and at wit's end. "Can't you two just get along?"

Sibling rivalry between the boys is constant in our household.

"No, you shut up," the eldest one will say, mimicking his younger brother.

Then the verbal jostling begins, usually sending the younger one into a fit of rage. The teasing and taunting is unrelenting until one of us parents intervenes.

Our 12-year-old does not quite have the verbal dexterity that his older brother does, so when the younger one is continually teased, he snaps.

In the late 1800s, there was a man named, Pa'ahao who was from an area called Wai'ohinu in Ka'u on the Big Island.

Neighbors in the community would often tease him because when he became annoyed he would shout, "Naio!" referring to pinworms.

This amused his tormentors who would purposely badger him so that he would react.

There is an 'olelo no'eau: E loa'a ana ia 'oe ka mea a Pa'ahao.

Translated it means: You'll get what Pa'ahao has. This saying was often uttered by the person who was being tormented.

I don't ever recall tormenting my younger brother, even though my mom claims I did. We grew up in Ka'a'awa in an old military barrack that had been converted into a beachside bungalow. My parents bought the home in 1961 with its peeling paint, cement shower stalls and a fireplace that pumped black smoke into the living room when lit.

However, the fact that the house was on the beach made it an ideal spot to raise a family.

There were other characteristics to the house that only those who lived in it or came to visit would know about for instance, the puka in the floor that were randomly scattered throughout the house.

These puka were a great way to dispose of items that went undetected by the adults. On one occasion, my brother and I were quarreling, and he retaliated by snatching up a belt that my parents had recently purchased for me and slipping it down one of the puka in the floor.

The belt was one of my most treasured possessions.

According to my mom, I made quite a scene, so much so that my father used a wire coat hanger to fish the belt out. It took him about an hour, and he was furious with us.

I know that bickering and quarreling and teasing are common in every household. I guess it runs in the family.

"Both verbal sparring and physical fighting were a national tradition in our family," said my husband.

Reach Ka'ohua Lucas at Family Matters, 'Ohana section, The Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Hono-lulu, HI 96802; fax 525-8055; or ohana@honoluluadvertiser.com.