I won't get into the origins of the bad blood in my relationship with my brother. During our adult lives we had an unofficial truce because of my niece and nephew. We both wanted them to have a relationship with someone on our side of the family and I was the only one who was going around them. We had a very immature, adolescent rapport with each other that seemed to work.
My "pet name" for my brother was "water buffalo". It was my way of keeping him in his place, I guess, and not say anything out of the way in front of the kids. One day Billy, Arnie (my nephew) and I were sitting at the dining room table visiting. For some reason Arnie, who was around 5 at the time, looked over at his daddy and called him a water buffalo.
The look on my brother's face was pure devastation. He couldn't reprimand Arnie for calling him such a name because the child had grown up listening to me call his daddy by that name. I felt about two inches tall. I also realized that only I could repair the damage that had been done.
I took Arnie by both hands and looked him square in the eye. I explained to him that I was wrong for calling his daddy that name. I told him that if he promised to never call his daddy a water buffalo again, then I would never, ever call his daddy by that name either.
Arnie smiled at me with his sweet, little, elfin smile and promised not to ever say it again.
I also apologized to my brother for creating the situation in front of my nephew so he would know that I was truly sorry for what I had done.
I could see the gratitude in my brother's eyes as he accepted my apology.
I never called him by anything other than his name in front of his kids again. Also after that Arnie only called him "daddy".