Crib notes: To be a younger sibling
My younger sister had to be scrappy while we were growing up. In our loud family of six, she could have either gotten lost or fought hard as the baby of four girls to be heard, which is what she did.
Once, when she was about 5-years-old, we were returning home from somewhere, the whole family packed in the station wagon. She suddenly blurted out, “I threw a rock through that window over there,” and pointed to an unfamiliar neighbor’s house a few blocks from home.
“What?!” my Dad asked, incredulous his little daughter would say something so nonchalantly, let alone do such a thing. The car came to a screeching halt and then my Dad marched up the front steps of the now identified window victim’s home and rapped on the door while my sister, who still seemed unfazed, stood stoically by his side. “Yes?” a man asked from behind a partial opening.
“My daughter here, uh, says she threw a rock through (that) window, recently,” he said and pointed.
I could only see their body language from the car and later piece together the information my Dad gave us, but next thing I knew, my Dad and the robe-clad man came walking, then hunched down to inspect the obviously still pristine, nowhere cracked, window.
Dad came back to the car red-faced, even more flustered than before. “I made it up!” my sister confessed. “I wanted to have good stories to tell around the house, too!” she cried.
I’ve been thinking about that story lately, as I, too, now have four children and can see similar dynamics beginning to play in my own household. Our youngest, a 4-year-old girl, tries to one-up everyone. As the others hunker down to do homework she’ll ask questions that cannot be ignored. “Do you know where milk comes from?” she’ll ask. And not just from plain old cows, no sirree. “From cows’ eyes!” she declares.
She recently stated at the dinner table, “I know of a place where if you don’t wear blue on St. Patrick’s Day you get kissed!”
When she’s one-to-one with any of us she lets her guard down, but when in groups she’s on high alert. She will pick more fights with her oldest brother than with the two siblings closer to her own age. While the other kids clamor to pick up their things before I make my threatened pass with the Goodwill bag of donations, she’ll wait to see if I’m bluffing. She also wants to know why she can’t have as many play dates, sleepovers, or even as much food as her fifth-grade brother.
Indeed my youngest child has a resilient, fighter trait now just like my little sister did when we were kids. With all that time to think and absorb so many characters, they are also two of the most imaginative people I know.
Julie Samrick is the mother of four young children and a resident of El Dorado Hills. She is also the founder of KidFocused.com, a site devoted to current children’s issues.