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Brother I didn't want becomes key to parenting success

Callie and her Uncle Devin. Special to The Forum1 / 2
Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft, Parenting Perspectives columnist2 / 2

My secret to parenting success is my 19-year-old brother.

You wouldn't guess it upon meeting him, but he's a darn good babysitter, a fantastic brother and an awesome uncle. He's helped us out of more jams in the past year than I could ever have imagined. (We do pay him for his help, though not as much as he could be getting if he spent that time working somewhere else.)

I really don't deserve his kindness. After all, I tried to vote him out of the family at the beginning of his life. "No," I told my parents. "I don't want him. I have enough brothers and sisters already." (In my defense, I did already have five siblings.)

I was overruled and had another brother, just like that.

I tried my hardest not to like him, but the kid grew on me and before I knew it, I loved my new little brother. Luckily, he hasn't held a grudge against me for my early reluctance to add one more to the family.

This summer, my husband's job changed his work hours, so our carefully crafted system of alternating work schedules blew up in our faces. Devin came to our rescue and watched Callie any time we needed him.

He and Callie enjoy their time together. He's her favorite person and, as much as he's willing to admit it, he thinks she's a pretty excellent kid, too. (He likes her so much that he made a series within his vlog called "The Callie Chronicles" to record their adventures. You can check that out at tinyurl.com/yc5cgdcy or search "Devin Strnad" on YouTube.)

He's shown endless patience with her. He'll hang out at the McDonald's Play Place with her for hours at a time and he doesn't mind that she likes to watch the same movie every single day for a month at a time. (Multiple times a day if you let her, which he sometimes does, much to Callie's delight.) She loves their time together so much that on days I'm home with her, she'll sometimes ask if I can go to work so she can see Devin.

As we moved into fall and my husband's work schedule returned to normal, I expected we'd need Devin's help a little less. Then our day care made the tough decision to change their hours and we again found ourselves in a bind. Day care was closing at 8 p.m., but I work until 1 a.m. and my husband works until 8:30 p.m. and wouldn't be able to get to day care for about half an hour after that.

Once again, Devin to the rescue.

I sheepishly texted him about the problem and asked if he'd mind picking her up and spending an hour or so with her on the nights she went to day care.

"Oh, it's fine," he texted me back. "And eh, it pays the bills and I get to hang out and watch my niece grow up, so it's a win win."

I told my daughter that Devin would be picking her up from day care from now on.

"Yay!" she yelled. "I love Devin. He's my favorite."

Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft is hub manager for Forum Design Center. She lives in Moorhead with her husband and their daughter, Calliope. She can be reached at astrnad@forumcomm.com. Follow her daughter on Twitter @lilmisscalliope.

Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft

Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft is hub manager for Forum Design Center. She lives in Moorhead with her husband and their daughter, Calliope. She can be reached at astrnad@forumcomm.com.

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