Saturday, November 23, 2013

Shhhhh. Don't Ruin It.

My children have not always gotten along.  As in I didn't think they would ever grow up to have the relationship that I wished for them.  As in the large crack on our inner window that stayed there for 8 years after a hairbrush was thrown at someone.  As in the time that someone's temple connected with the handset of the cordless phone.  They're Eeyore and Tigger.  Shrek and Donkey.  Starsky and Hutch (the Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson ones).  Watching them interact is like watching someone try to comb out dreadlocks.  Painful and ultimately usually not worth it.

There was a time a couple of years ago, when G was a sophomore, that T and I used to talk about how mean she was.  And how we were afraid of what would happen if we died.  You know those Lifetime shows where the parents die and the sisters go to any lengths to stay together when social services come to separate them?  Those are not my kids.  We even went so far as to say to G, "Daddy and I could die tomorrow.  And then all you would have in this world is your sister, and if you treat her like this, she won't like you either, and you'll be all alone in this world."  I am not proud of this, and I do concede that it completely disregards logic, the Texas estate laws, and any loving feeling toward my child at all, but there it was.

Lately, however, in the tiniest of ways, the light dawns.  Sometimes, the light is reflected such as when I had a tremendous fight with S, and G, a hale and hearty veteran of such battles, came into my room and said, "It'll be okay.  It's the same fight we used to have only over something different."  Oh, God.  Is it really?  Have I learned NOTHING from parenting the first one?  Have I not GROWN from this process?  AM I DOOMED TO HAVE TO DO THIS ALL OVER AGAIN?  And then, sweet G loaded the dishwasher and went merrily and sweetly on her way.  Until the next morning, when S made them late for leaving.  I think I heard swear words as they were backing out of the driveway.  At full speed. And all was back to normal.

But last night, I saw the light as the shepherds might have (it might be a bit of a stretch to compare these little sibling episodes to the birth of Jesus, it might not).  Last night, we endured the single, most miserable football game experience ever.  It was 36 degrees and raining.  Wrapped in every piece of clothing we owned, which promptly became soaked, we braved the elements to attend what would be G's last high school football game.  We were also there to see S perform in the drumline.  S admitted, after halftime (90 minutes into the evening), that the ankle socks and canvas converse low-tops were not the best idea.  Through blue lips, chattering teeth, and streaming eyes, she said, "My f-f-f-feet are so c-c-c-old."  Twelve months ago, had S had a rare disease that required a fingernail clipping to save her, G would never have given it up.  But last night, G took off her fuzzy, dry socks and her fleece-lined boots, stood on a towel, and gave up her boots for her sister.  Yes, we were leaving.  Yes, she only had to walk 15 yards to the car in wet sneakers.  But she did it. And I began to hope.

I never had a sister.  I don't have the foggiest idea what it must be like.  I was always jealous of friends who had sisters they were close to - my closest friends from church growing up, my law school roommate.  As close as I am to my brother, there is something special to that relationship that's not like any other.  And I want that so badly for my children.  I hope it's possible.  I became a much nicer person when I went away to college, or maybe I just grew up.  So maybe, they can have that, too -- a sister you can always turn to, who knows what you're going through, who understands without you having to say anything, and who you can rely on when your parents grow old and senile, which given our medical history is totally going to happen.

Good luck, girls.

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