Big sisters are the crab grass in the lawn of life -Charles M. Schulz
So today I got in a fight with my sister. I was in one of those sleeping moments where you could get up from bed and be fine for the rest of the day, or you could continue to sleep for no reason whatsoever. Well, my sister called at that moment. This was not the cause of our argument, and the reason for the argument is not important. But what is important is that I was bitchy and gave her advice that maybe I should have kept to myself. I know right. To be honest, it’s hard being the older sibling and in this case I was a super-bitchy one.
But let’s back this story up. I guess you could call the story of siblings a love story just like any other. My sister is 3 years, 355 days younger than me exactly. Apparently when I was told that I would have a baby brother or sister my entire family was on the way to Put-In-Bay and I asked if the baby would come “Before the boat ride.” Wasn’t I preciously precocious? I don’t remember that, but I do remember when my sister was born. I recall riding to my grandparents’ house in the dark and I was wearing a white and yellow striped shirt with skiing penguins on it. No lie. I remember it clearly.
Then I remember weird things about her infancy. Like when we got our first family picture taken as a four-member group instead of a trio, and I almost dropped her on the floor. Then laying on the floor in her nursery in the pink shag carpet and smelling that pink baby lotion. I also remember when she got to the point when babies cry for long periods of time for no reason and my mom would take her out on our front porch and rock her on our swing…and I would sit in the living room with my fingers in my ears.
Her toddler years were a blur to me and I don’t recall lots about them sadly, but then again I was like seven. She was a unique kid back then to put it mildly. She used to cram several pacifiers in her mouth at once and her clothes were perpetually stained with mustard or, on more interesting days, a sucker might be stuck to her back. She also started wearing her pants low-ride style far before any gangstas did…so don’t be hatin’.
I think we got along ok back then. But then things went downhill pretty fast. Probably from ages six to ten I hated my sister and she hated me. Ok, we didn’t really hate each other. But the domestic violence got pretty nasty. She clawed, I hit, she pulled hair, I kicked. I threw a softball at her head once, and she kicked me in the jaw when I was lying on the floor. Straight out of COPS huh? They probably would have pulled us out of the house in handcuffs kicking and screaming at each other. When I had friends over it seemed to me that she would purposely ruin my life by being a little pest. I would have liked to lock her in a cage and throw away the key. I think our family thought we were like oil and water and would never, ever get along. And I remember people saying “Those girls couldn’t be any more different.” And it’s true. I was pretty sensitive as a kid: quiet, artistic, prone to having my feelings hurt. But my sister was a “firecracker” to put it mildly. Or as our grandparents may have said “That girl is full of piss and vinegar.” She was very social, stubborn, and didn’t give a shit what anyone thought. And maybe that’s why I hated her so much. She was all the stuff I didn’t have an ounce of. The big sister is supposed to be the tough one and I probably envied her.
Things mellowed out as we got older and we were just less interested in each other. She was popular in school and I wasn’t so much, but it didn’t seem to matter. People still couldn’t believe we were related (“You’re not step-sisters?”), and we were more different than ever. Then I went away to college, and things began to change. It’s the epitome of “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” And being three hours away and not seeing her for weeks, sometimes months, began to be more difficult.
I think that’s when I realized that she was my ultimate best friend because she knew more about me and had more shared history with me than anyone else could or would ever have. She’s the only one who could ever truly understand the weird oddities of our family or appreciate little quirks about our childhood. We both love the classic rock of our young days and have the same laughs at our made up games as kids. We can remember the names of each other’s Barbies and exactly what we used to chose for our Happy Meals (I got a hamburger with only ketchup, she got nugs with hot mustard sauce). I know that despite shared pasts some siblings just won’t get along or don’t have a similar bond, and I’m very lucky that I finally realized that I have that with my sister. I sometimes find myself pitying only children because in the future as our parents get older I’m going to need her to lean on. As much as I want to give her advice and be the big sister who takes care of everything, she’s pretty tough herself and I’m going to need that.
So now that my sister and I are essentially grown-ups, we get along better than we have since those early days when I tried to get her out of her bassinet while my mom was in the shower. That was not a wise choice as a four-year-old. We have our differences still (I like trashy reality shows, she berates me for it), but she’s half the reason I decided not to move too far away from home when I graduated. I need someone to dominate Classic Rock Catch Phrase with and somebody that will shout out why the song is important (because my dad played it while we were riding in his old rattle-trap MG convertible). So this is for her as an “I’m sorry for being a jerky, know-it-all older sister” and a “Happy 22nd Anniversary of the Day we Met.” i'm proud of you and I love ya Malooch!