Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Sister, My Friend

When I was a child, about 7 years old, I'm guessing, I had a swing set in the back yard that I shared with my younger sister, Kristin. My dad had put it in the ground with his own two hands, and sanded, painted, and attached the swings himself. It was a special place for us. There were two swings so that Kristin and I could both swing independently, but when it was first put in, she was too young to swing very well by herself. She hadn't gotten the pumping down. There were times when I didn't hesitate to help her with a push, while looking longingly at the swing next to her where I should be having my own fun. It was just expected of me, the big sister, to sacrifice anything to help her. Sometimes I embraced that role, but then there were times I resented it, and, mind you, times when she wasn't all that grateful. We were sisters after all. We had the ability to "hate" each other but still love each other in the same instant.

One afternoon, we were outside playing on the swings. We were particularly grumpy with each other that day for reasons I no longer remember. She wanted to be pushed. Oh, I gave her a push alright. And while she wasn't quite old enough to pump very well herself, she knew good and darn well how to hold on. But for some mysterious reason, my much rougher than average push sent her flying off the swing, screaming. Of course she was fine, and I knew this because when she got up she ran screaming into the house. I was called in, not long after, and sat down on the piano bench.

"Erin, did you push your sister off the swing?" my mom asked.

I've always found it odd that whenever questions like this were posed it was always, "your sister," as though using her name would make it easy for me to forget that she's still, in fact, my sister.

"Did you push Kristin off the swing?"
"Who's Kristin?"

"No," I answered, looking at the floor.

"Erin, did you push your sister off the swing?" This time each word was dragged out a little bit longer.

"No," I replied again.

"Erin, I'm going to ask you one more time," and there it not so subtle cue, telling me they already know the answer to the question, but they just want to hear it from me, though I've never been convinced that the punishment would have been any different regardless.

"No." I was only 7 for goodness sakes. Such cues were lost on me, and may I remind you, she let go?! In my mind, she committed swing set suicide, and my violent push should not be blamed. Like the basketball player who flops to the floor when their jerseys brush, demanding a foul, she was pleased with herself, and I was left standing, wondering why the whistle blew.

My dad then grabbed me by the arm and walked me over to the giant picture window that just happened to be facing the swing set. Oops. Light bulb moment. He didn't have to say it, but he did, "Erin, we saw the whole thing!"

And then, no reasoning or logic as to how she actually fell, was any good at all.

"She's smaller than you!"
"You're the BIG sister!"
"You're old enough to know better!"

I can't remember what my punishment was, but I do remember that before the day was over, Kristin and I were playing Crayon People (another day, another blog) together as though nothing had happened. My sister, my friend. I will never have a relationship with anyone like I have with her.

So now, I try not to become discouraged when I have days when Elijah and Chastity are just tattling on each other all day.

"She hit me!"
"He pushed me!"
"That's mine!"

They have normal moments like these, but more often than not, I am hearing them giggle and laugh together, and take turns without being prompted.

Yesterday I heard Chastity begin to cry. I looked up from my crocheting to see her hold her hand up. Her fingers had gotten pinched during their rough play with some cars. I remained quiet while Elijah calmly said, "Shhhhh, what hurts Chastity?"

She whimpered which finger it was, and he promptly kissed it. "There, is it all better?" She still came to me for some magic mommy kisses, but I was just so tickled. I let Elijah know how wonderful that was. He was already over it, and they were back at the cars again, laughing at each other, and the moment was over.

They normally play very well together, but this has also brought up a small concern. I had taken them to McDonald's play place to play with a bunch of other kids a few weeks ago, and I noticed that they didn't really interact with anyone else. They followed each other around the whole hour we were there. It was a madhouse there, but I never had to worry about losing them. Elijah looked for Chastity at every turn, and she followed him like a giddy shadow, just excited to be in his presence. But now, after really thinking about it, I figure they will gradually learn how to interact with others. They will, one day, develop their own separate friendships, but right now, they are nurturing the most important friendship of all, and they will never have that with anyone else.

Today, I had some crackers out on the counter. Elijah ran into the kitchen. "May I have a cracker, please?"

"Sure," I told him.

He grabbed one, and then another, saying, "And one for my sister, my friend," and he ran to share it with her.

Melt. My. Heart.


  1. I love this. Probably because I can picture it all so vivedly in my own mind:) What a great reminder as my own grow into that phase (though I think I still have a bit of time before the tattling really begins)-Jillian

    1. Thanks, Jillian! Your little boys are surrounded by so much love, they are going to be the best of friends!

  2. The end ... "my sister, my friend". OMG I love them <3 you have some great kids girl!

    1. Thanks, Stacy! :) When he said that, I knew I had to find a way to write it into a blog. They really are best friends, and I love them so much!