There are certain moments when I’m proud to have two children. Like when we’re at Cheesecake Factory, and Annabel and Luke are quietly eating three pounds of French fries, and all of the old ladies in Boca stop by to tell me how well-behaved they are. Or when it’s movie night at our house, and they sing the theme song of Little Einsteins together. Or when they play hide and seek, and Luke always shouts out to Annabel where he’s hiding (“Sissy, my under table!”).
Other times, their bickering drives me to drink, like when they fight over who spits out the toothpaste first. Or when Annabel teases Luke incessantly when he tries to sing the ABC song. Or when they fight over who gets to sit next to Daddy at breakfast. “Pick your battles,” I tell them. “You’re going to be living together for a long time.”
I’m reminded of what Grandma Flo used to tell me, “I had thirteen brothers and sisters, you only have one. You can get along with her.”
Well, I’m glad I’m not like Great-Grandma Yetta, dealing with a brood larger than my son’s preschool class. Fourteen children! Can you even fathom having that many children? Granted, after number 7 or 8, I imagine she just sort of willed her cervix to open and they swam out on their own.
But Grandma Flo’s words ring true. When you only have to share with ONE other sibling, the negotiating must be harder than if you are used to NEVER having anything to yourself.
We have a simple rule in our family: you share with your brother and sister. If you can’t work it out, the coveted item (magic wand, Mama’s sunglasses, the blue twisty straw) goes bye-bye. Annabel and Luke are learning quickly that I mean business.
I always say that I had another child for Annabel’s sake most of all. I wasn’t feeling that yearning, that longing for a new baby. But I didn’t want Annabel to grow up alone. I didn’t want her to have to play with US only, and I wanted her to have a best friend for life. Plus, I think that by having a baby brother, Annabel realized that she wasn’t the exact center of the universe. A hard lesson to learn at 2 1/2 for sure, but an important one.
This morning, I’ve broken up skirmishes over the orange goggles, the broken walkie talkies found in the garage, and the choice of books to be read on the couch. It’s exhausting sometimes, this sibling love.
But then again, there are those moments that sibling love is aligned perfectly. Like yesterday, when Annabel was the Shabbat Imma at school. As soon as Luke and I arrived at her classroom, Annabel beamed with pride and pulled up another chair. “Here Lukey,” she motioned next to her, “you can sit right by Sissy at the special table.”
For the next 55 minutes, the two of them ate snacks, sang songs, and held hands as they walked down the hallway. Annabel even let Luke choose the first cup of apple juice. When it was time to go, they puckered up and kissed each other.
“Wow,” Annabel’s teacher remarked, “they really love each other.”
Yes, they do.
I must end this post now, though, because they’re screaming at each other again. I think it’s something about Annabel closing the door to Luke’s room. Or maybe Luke’s closing the door. Does it really matter, in the end?
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