She’s soon to be 24 and he’s a solid 18. She remembers when she cried for a sibling. Tears streaming down her face, not understanding how her mommy and daddy would need to wait a year or so after buying a house. She bright tears to my eyes when she begged that she had money for diapers.When he was born, she would sit with loving arms ready and willing to receive him, at any given moment. Being a big sister was a badge of honor, a defining purpose. And she marched down the street and through subway stations, guarding his stroller or the safety of his toddler steps. I was always amazed and thankful at how this little girl had my back.
I don’t think I would have been able to handle it when, baby boy number two came on the scene. I clearly remember our routine when we would get on a subway. She had her two year old brother, while I managed to baby stroller. A mom on the subway with three kids is sort of abnormal. People look annoyed that my MetroCard got be a 4 for 1 deal. I always felt the urge to say, sorry I know, I should be in a mini van.
And in later years, she was the best babysitter we never had to pay. She kept her brothers in line and had a check list on the fridge, courtesy of some baby sitter workshop she wanted to attend. She insisted that they respect her; even when he thought he was a cool skater 5th grader. I didn’t interfere, she’d earned the right to demand it. He might not have remembered his 4th birthday, when she climbed in the ball pit to rescue him because he was feeling overwhelmed with all of the kids and birthday activities. He may not remember how she sat on the floor with him in her lap, assuring him that the party was a good thing.
Over the past year, it was hard for her to see him with a girlfriend, doing relationship stuff. This was the little boy who was affraid of grass, sand and totally paranoid when he saw his shadow. She couldn’t comprehend his independence, confidence and determined sense of self. Listening to her and watching him, felt like a touch and go scene. I knew they loved each other, but would they like each other?
As I look at our recent vacation pictures, reliving the special moments, I see the sister, brother bond has become something very cool. They have a vibe that isn’t defined by age or obligation. And watching them these days, around the kitchen table when they turn each other onto music or in he driveway when they pass off the car keys, I feel thankful that they are friends.