“Why is she such a weirdo when my friends are around?” Alyssa wondered the other day as we drove to Gram’s house.
Olivia was in the backseat minding her own business, just being quiet and, dare I say, normal? Perhaps even ordinary.
“She wants your attention,” I replied. “When you’re with your friends, you’re giving them your attention and the best way Livie can think of to get your attention is to act crazy. So she does.”
“But it’s so annoying!”
“Of course it is, that’s what gets your attention.”
Olivia’s syndrome manifests itself mostly through social issues. She doesn’t really have friends at school because she won’t talk to her peers. But she does have a relationship with her sister. She interacts with Alyssa and so sees Alyssa as her friend. When Lyss’s friends are over or when we’re out and about and run into friends, Liv sees Lyssie with her friends and I think Liv is jealous that her sister is giving all that attention to someone who is not her.
I do my best to distract Olivia when Alyssa is with friends but it’s hard for all of us.
And when Olivia acts out, she really does go to extremes. She makes weird faces, she shrieks, she laughs hysterically. In the end, I can understand why Alyssa is embarrassed, even if just a little, by her sister.
I think, though, that a lot of sister relationships are like this, even sisters where there is no syndrome involved.
I finally told Alyssa, “Little sisters are annoying. They can be embarrassing but I’m sure your friends understand that her behavior is not something you can control. You’re friends are good people, they know that Livie is just silly sometimes and they think it’s funny, not something to judge you against.”
“I know,” she sulked a little. “I just wish she’d stop being weird.”
Oh Lyss, I think those words have been spoken countless times by big sisters everywhere for all time. It’s just the nature of being siblings. You deal, you get annoyed and at the end of the day, you’re grateful for your siblings. Really.