Monday, June 19, 2017

Being the Big Sister

I was thirteen when my youngest brother, M, was born. He was such an awesome baby. Well, except for the colic but hey, I was his big sister, I didn’t really have to deal with his screaming self most evenings. And the colic ‘only’ lasted a few months. My mom probably remembers that part of his infancy more than I do. She was poor working woman who had to come home each day to a screaming infant.

As M got older, I helped out with him a lot more. I was a teenager and he was a toddler and it was just how things worked in our house.

It should probably be mentioned that my dad is not M’s dad. My parents divorced when I was eleven. J was seven and, obviously, M wasn’t here yet.

My dad moved in with his brother, who lived three houses away from where we lived with our mom. We saw my dad several times a week and he took us out to lunch every Sunday. Yeah, my mom really got a break then, didn’t she? Yikes!

Anyway, when M was about two, he often wanted to go with me and J when we went with my dad. One afternoon, he was particularly insistent. He really wanted to go. My dad didn’t mind if we took him along, but I was resistant. See, I knew that if we took him, he’d be my responsibility. My dad is…kind but he’s not all that great with little kids.

My dad took me aside and said gently, “I know you don’t want the work of taking care of him but it means so much more to him to go with us than it does to you to not have him go.”

He was right. We took M with us. It was fine.

Yesterday we were at my mom’s dropping off a card and some small gifts for my step-dad for what Alyssa dubbed, “Grand Pawp” day and my mom invited Lyss and Liv to go with her to her mom’s today.

They said yes because my grandma lives with my aunt who lives on a lake so they’d get to swim and play at the park and it would be fun for all.

Except, the more Lyss thought about it, the more she realized that if it was just her and Liv and Gram, a lot of the care for Liv would fall to Lyss because that’s how it works. Livie clings to Lyssie if I’m not around for her to cling to. And while they know my grandma and my aunt and cousin well, Livie gets ‘weird’ and shy and clingy and Alyssa was dreading that.

Lyss hemmed and hawed about it most of the evening last night. Livie declared that she didn’t care if they went with Gram or stayed home but she was doing whatever Lyssie was doing. Which just make Alyssa feel that much more put upon.

Finally, I pulled her aside and explained, “You already told Gram you’d go. You can have Gram ask A for the wifi password (that was one of her excuses for not going, not knowing my aunt’s wifi password.) You can take your sketch pad and some paper for Liv. You don’t have to swim the entire day (another excuse was that we’d gone swimming that very day and she didn’t feel like swimming the next day.) Pawn Livie off on Gram every so often. It’s just one day, a few hours even. You’ll be riding in the front seat of the car, Liv will be in the backseat, you’ll have a break from her on the drive to Battle Creek and the drive back. Gram knows how Livie is. She wouldn’t have invited you guys if she didn’t want you to go. You should go.”

I wasn’t as eloquent or as thoughtful as my dad had been but she decided I was right and she’d suck it up and spend the day with her Gram and her clingy sister.

Being the big sister is hard sometimes. I get that. I’ve been there and didn’t get a T-shirt for it. But in the end, it meant more to Livie and to my mom for them to go than it did for Lyssie not to go. And I think she got that.

1 comment:

Julie said...

I'm the baaaaaby so I don't know how that is but it sounds like your dad was very wise that particular day.