True story. The day our parents sat my older sister and I down to share what they considered exciting news (a baby sister), I was more concerned with why the hell I wasn’t receiving a pack of gum.
It was a resounding statement (that I am reminded of to this day) and it shat from my mouth like a bitter explosion of verbal diarrhea.
“I wanted gum”
I mean, my gosh, that was mean to say. I guess I was so caught up in my own personal state of toddler turmoil, that I have no recollection of my older sister’s reaction. She was a much wiser woman than me, about 6 years. She was probably smart enough to know that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. She’s still a classy lady to this day.
Telling a couple of toddlers you have a surprise and not following through with a piece of tangible personal property is quite disappointing. In this world that craves instant gratification, a 4-year-old will always prefer a piece of Wrigley’s over a sibling, it’s a no brainer.
I suppose in an ironic sort of way, receiving a sibling is comparable to receiving a piece of gum, but the kind you find stuck to the bottom of your shoe. You didn’t ask for it, but once it’s there you’re stuck with it.
My parents not only gave us a sister, but they pulled the ol’ double mint, and a few years later, our brother arrived. Double the younger sibling fun.
As little humans, we couldn’t comprehend the kind of gift our parents were giving us. A gift that would far outlast any piece of long-lasting Extra. A gift that can only be fully appreciated now, as an adult.
A sibling is certainly not a necessity for happiness, but they are an added bonus if you were lucky enough to have one (or in my case, three).
They are a gift.
Whether you were striving to perfect your makeup application skills or your left hook, your siblings were there when you needed practice. There is a possibility they even gave you your first hair cut because they knew (at the ripe age of 6) what look would flatter your 4-year-old chipmunk cheeks best. Yes, I enjoyed an “edgy” look for a few weeks of my childhood.
They are your first best friends.
They are still the first people you go to when you need to share good news, and naturally, they were the keepers of your first secrets (Or so you thought, anyway).
Siblings are an extension of you. They are the only people who can sit in a room with you in silence, yet know exactly what you are thinking and feeling. You’ve shared the same experiences, the same joys and disappointments. You’ve coped through the same losses, fears and hardships. Though sometimes from different perspectives, ultimately you were there for each other to make each challenge more bearable.
You understand each other’s strengths and each other’s weaknesses, and you’ve watched each other grow from the embarrassing sibling who ran nude through the house in front of your friends, to the responsible young adult they are today. You know their personal journey, and what lies behind every laugh or tear, and they know yours, and that’s pretty cool.
Yes, in childhood sometimes knowing too much about one-another can add up to some intense fighting, but it’s all part of the character building process. Those fights taught us the fragility of relationships and how to mend and maintain them into our adult life.
We learned together, continued growing emotionally, and only allowed each other to reach just the right amount of maturity needed, in order to maintain our screwed up sense of humor.
If ever we decide to give our daughter a sibling, my hope is that she would be as blessed as I was to have one she can still call her best friend when she’s in her 30’s. If I’ve learned anything in life about siblings it would be this…
If and when, the day ever comes that I must break news to my daughter that she will no longer be an only, I’ll be prepared with a pack of gum to hand her at the same time I deliver the news as collateral. Someday she’ll thank me!
Did your children have a funny reaction to the news of a sibling?