I like that if I get scared I can sneak and snuggle in his room and he can keep me safe. I always feel warm and comfortable. He is my friend, he is so kind so me! We play together, too.
Her is my friend. I like sleeping in the same room. She just always hugs me, because her just likes me a whole lot. Because I live with my sister my life is just better.
Ninja Boy has been sick for two days with a fever, chills and asthma issues. He and Twinkle Toes were at the breaking point- like that moment 5 minutes before it rains and I swear I can smell the earth prepare for the onslaught of water, the end of peace was in sight. I called out to Twinkle Toes and asked her in a mock whisper, “What do you like most about your brother?” She fake-whispered her answer, engineering a way to share her “secret love” for Ninja with me while he sat three feet away and pretended not to listen. When it was time for Ninja to talk to me, he kept looking around in a dramatic fashion, easing in and out of our conspiracy whisper to remind his sister not to listen.
I have two sisters, Scarlett O’Hara and Nurse Honey. With five short years spanning between all of us, we spent many hours plotting each other’s demise. We stole clothes and boyfriends, fought valiantly on the grounds of fairness and equality and fight to the death if someone outside our family thought they were allowed to insult any one of us. I can say I never wished I was the only child, but the ebbs and flows of our relationships have equal parts comforted and confounded me for my entire life.
A few weeks ago Twinkle started screaming at bedtime, a guttural sob more intense than I had ever heard her make. I rushed in to her room and immediately held her, thinking she was waking up from a night terror. Then I realized Ninja was still awake, too, and had sneaked into Twinkle’s bed. She was sobbing too hard to breath, so I held her tight, one arm around her back and the other touching her Mommy Button (that is what we call the belly button because at one point we were one, connected at this special place and dependent on it for survival). She calmed down, looked at me and said “I told Ninja to stop doing something because it was dangerous and he told me he would die. I told him I didn’t want him to die and he told me that you could just grow a new brother in your belly. You told me you aren’t growing any more babies, mommy! And I don’t think I can live without a brother. I don’t want a new brother, anyway, I need Ninjaaaaaaaaa [the long a series signifies a new cry surfacing, poor little twinkle].”
They have a great love for each other, a love so intense that they sneak into each other’s rooms at night and sleep holding hands. Twinkle already, at age 5 and 11 months, will leave a friend’s house if her brother isn’t invited to tag along. I wanted this relationship to bloom- I remind them each time they fight that a sibling is a permanent friend attached to you for life. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t doubt myself, though, if I didn’t wonder if somehow I am screwing them up by nurturing their bonds more than their independence, their love for each other more than their autonomy.
One of the readings at our wedding was “love each other or perish” a poignant segment of Tuesdays with Morrie. I want the kids to love all human beings, to live out our principles with everyone they meet. Equally important to me, however, is that they see loving each other as a tremendous gift, not a burden placed on them by an over-zealous mom trying to build a family fit to be painted in a Norman Rockwell study of suburban happiness. I heard his (Rockwell) childhood was horrific, though, and his paintings were a reflection of an un-actualized ideal.
Each Mom I know tries to fix something in their child’s life that was broken in their own childhood, tries to incorporate a choice that might seem inconsequential, but is a reflection of something you would have changed about your own upbringing. Me? I don’t think I ever really understood how lucky I was to have two girls so close in age we could actively engage in each other’s lives. The family vacations, eating dinner every night together while sitting around the table, even making fun of every boy brought to our house because we knew our sister could do better, our lives were build on the untouchable bond of sibling love. For many years we were all in different states, getting married and starting families, connecting three or four times a year when we all visited our parents at the same time. Other years we spent talking on the phone, comparing poop stories of infants and virtually holding each other’s hands. I hope my kids get to that point, that moment when they realize that they have a fierce advocate and forever friend in their corner in the form of a sibling, before they ever leave home and start their own new adventures. I hope they see in eachother the promise of a friend that loves you, even when you can’t figure out why.