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    Playing the blame game


    Our mother possessed the patience of a saint, but that never stopped my five sisters and me, when we were youngsters, from doing our best to test the limits of that patience. And limits there were.

    While my mother was very pretty, she had also grown up on a farm and was physically quite strong. It didn’t happen often, but if we started fighting and throwing things and one of my mother’s prized possessions ended up damaged or broken, we all knew there was a reasonable chance she would apply that strength to the bottoms of her little miscreants.

    For reasons that escape me at this time in life, my sisters and I often felt it was incumbent upon us to deny the ultimate responsibility for the misbehavior and instead lay the blame at the feet of a sibling.

    “She started it,” I might yell, pointing at my sister. “No, he did!” she would exclaim.

    Peter J. McDonnell, MD
    He is director of The Wilmer Eye Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and chief medical editor of ...

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