Friday, April 11, 2008


I never had a sister, just an older brother. I sometimes thought I might like to have a little sister (I never really wanted a big sister), but it wasn't an overwhelming thought or anything. My brother was (is) cool. We're two years apart, and we walked to school together, took swimming lessons together, went trick-or-treating together, went up in our rooms and talked about how unreasonable our parents were together...the usual. I guess in all sibling relationships, the older one is bossy and superior and the younger one is the pest, so...guess which one I was. I would trail after my brother and his friends because what they were doing was so much more interesting than anything I was doing, and they would tell me to run along, they didn't want any Girl Scout cookies today, guffaw loudly to each other, and I would go in my room and cry. So, you know, a totally healthy, normal brother-sister relationship.

It's very similar with my girls but more intense. It is so much fun to watch all the love between them. Each day when Lucy gets up, I hear Elaine yell from her crib, "Luuuuuuucccy! Luuuucccy [insert our last name here]!!" like there was some other Lucy in the house and she wanted to make sure she gets the right one. Then Lucy will run in her room, and she climbs in the crib with her, and they jump up and down, pretending it is a bouncy castle. (This is the only bed I'll allow them to jump on, so they make the most of it.) Then I get them dressed for the day, and Lucy tells Elaine, "You look just darling, Elaine!" and Elaine says, "You're cute, Luce!" We go down to breakfast and I usually have to referee who gets to pray first, but then they hold hands and sing, "God Our Father" and each say a prayer (like Elaine's yesterday, "Dear Jesus, thank you for this apple bread, Amen" to which Lucy adds, sotto voce, "Even though it's banana bread, Amen."

When I pick Elaine up from daycare, the first thing she usually says is, "Wanna go see Lucy. Where's Dad?" She loves to ride along when I take Lucy to school. As for Lucy, she's been learning the verse, "My dear children, love one another not in word or in tongue, but in truth and in deed" (which is actually kind of hard to learn!), but I've been trying to catch her in the act of doing loving things for Elaine and making a big deal of it, telling her she's loving in truth and in deed, so she's catching on and wanting to live that way more and more. The other day when Elaine melted down about something, Lucy ran and got her (very cool) homemade alphabet flashcards and showed them all to her, even letting her touch them (very sacred).

But the older-younger sister dynamic is still there. This week in particular, since we've been indoors so much, all the antagonistic behavior has been basically festering in the Petrii dish of our house. No matter how many times I try to go over the ideal of, if someone's toy or doll is lying there innocently, it's still courteous to ask the owner, "Do you mind if I take a turn with this? Then I'll give it back" before just picking it up (such as the Hello Kitty phone that I recently found down between the seats in our car. Since its rediscovery, it is a precious, sought-after item). Lucy is really only fair to middling at this, and Elaine is frankly terrible. She's sort of your essential two-year-old and lives by the Teddy-Roosevelt-walk-softly-and-carry-a-big-stick philosophy of sharing. As Lucy said to her yesterday, "Elaine, I try and try to be kind to you. But sometimes you're just wicked. And rude." (Which...wouldn't you totally love to be able to say that to some people in your life? I know I would.)

The whole bickering-sharp scream-crying-running feet-"Mom, Elaine hit me!" "Lucy did it!"-lather, rinse, repeat cycle we've been on this week has really been wearing on me. And the funny thing is, their worst fear and punishment is to be away from each other. All I have to say is, "Do you two need to be separated?" and they straighten up immediately (for a few moments).

I know this is absolutely nothing unusual. And actually, their love for each other outweighs their fighting by far. But I would say they have a typical sister relationship. I read in a book on creative discipline about a mom who, when her two pre-teen daughters were fighting yet again, finally said, "All this fighting is definitely NOT music to my ears. I want both of you to go in the bathroom and don't come out again until you've put your fight to music. Then come and sing it to me."

That is absolutely brilliant. I (almost) can't wait to try it when the girls get older. I can't wait to see what they would come up with. I'm guessing some sort of symphony with several movements and at least one intermission.

1 comment:

Juliet said...

Hey Pest!

I know which one you are!

As the song goes: "The sun will come out tomorrow." Next week the girls should be able to enjoy the outdoors. I think we are all ready for it.