What do you think makes a child a “good person”? I mean how does a child get the innate ability to be giving, caring and compassionate? It awes and puzzles me at the same time.
My two girls are very different. I worry about one much more than the other. My 7 year old is a little rascal. She gets into everything and is stubborn and hates doing pretty anything you ask her to do. If you ask her to put her coat on a hook instead of on the floor – she’ll do it – but she’ll huff and puff and stomp all through it so you know she isn’t happy.
My older girl just puts her coat on a hook to begin with. She couldn’t fathom throwing it on the floor.
Banana’s room is like a tornado and it doesn’t bother her in the slightest. Watermelon’s room has her nail polishes, pens, glasses, everything – lined up and organized and spotless.
They remind me of my brother and I. We were very different and I know that many times my parents said to my brother, “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”
I will never say those words to either of my girls. I cringed for my brother every time someone spoke them to him. Even with her tornado-y room and huffing and puffing – I never wish that Banana was like Watermelon.
I will never utter those words. I try really hard to embrace her differences and find a way to meet her needs according to her personality. When she stomps off after being told to do something – Rambo and I actually smile about it. She doesn’t know that we do - but we do. It’s who she is and we have to celebrate that.
For 5 years, Rambo and I contemplated having another baby after Watermelon. We were 95% sure we only wanted one child…until we weren’t sure. Now – the thought of having only one child and never giving Watermelon the chance to be a big sister in the way she is – forms tears instantly.
As a parent, you wonder why and how your kids got to be so different. You wonder why each one is the way they are.
Some days I think God gives me a glimpse into why he made Watermelon the way he did. It is because Banana needs her to be that person.
Banana hates getting up for school. Especially this week after Thanksgiving break and she has a cold and doesn’t feel well.
Enter the big sister.
Banana came home grumpy and sniffing and coughing. I was dealing with supper and other stuff and admit I wasn’t paying the best attention to her.
I looked into the living room to see Watermelon saying to Banana, “Hey..since you don’t feel good – do you want to take a big hot bath for a while? I’ll start the water for you if you do.”
Instantly Banana feels better. I thought that was it. But it wasn’t.
The next thing I know – Watermelon PICKED UP Banana. Even as I write this now – the picture in my mind gives me chills. I will never forget the image.
Watermelon is 12 and petite. Banana is 7 and petite. But still – a 7 year old is way past the age of being carried and Rambo and I can hardly hold her in our arms anymore.
But Watermelon picked her up. And Banana held on tight. I was behind them and all I could see was Banana’s little head laid down on her sister’s shoulder and her two little hands splayed across her big sister’s back and her legs wrapped around Watermelon’s torso as she was carried down the hallway.
Two tiny little hands on Watermelon’s back. So much in those hands. So much love and trust and need.
It nearly took my breath away.
I think I spend half my life just standing in the background – taking in my kid’s motions and words.
I sent the kids to bed later that night and was cleaning up in the kitchen when I heard talking. I started to walk back to their rooms to do the mom thing and tell them to quiet down and go to sleep until I stopped and realized that the talking was Watermelon.
She wasn’t talking. She was reading Banana a story in bed.
I don’t know why I’m still shocked…but I am. I suppose it’s because who she is – is what every sibling wants. I had brothers who didn’t care that I existed…and actually would have been a lot happier had I not existed. We had no relationship at all and when we did – it certainly wasn’t about love. I longed for it to be – but it wasn’t in the cards.
To see what I wanted - in my kids – is amazing beyond words. I suppose I’m most shocked that it happens naturally. I didn’t ask her to take care of Banana or read to her or any of it. She just does it and wants to and Banana has come to need it.
This morning I was dreading the waking up and getting ready for school deal. I left Banana with her clothes set out for her to wear and went back to getting myself ready. When I was done, I found Banana in Watermelon’s room – getting her hair brushed. With a pretty necklace on – given to her by Watermelon.
It’s just the little things. It was enough to make Banana okay with getting up and getting ready and going to school.
I texted Watermelon this morning and told her she was the best big sister and daughter ever and I don’t know what I’d ever do without her.
"Yah. I know. I’m pretty awesome, huh?"
So I called her a turd and she responded, “LOL. Thanks for saying that.”
I wonder if Banana will ever know what she has in Watermelon. I wonder if it will last. I wonder how they’ll be as they get even older. I wonder if Watermelon knows how much her actions teach Banana about the person she can become.
I wonder how different I’d be or anyone would be if everyone had a sibling like Watermelon. Though I was never given that by my brothers, I gave it to my sister when she was born when I was 15. What Watermelon does and gives to Banana, I gave to my own sister.
No one had to ask me. I wanted to do it. It was never a question. At times, I felt like it was my mission in life – my reason for being. To take care of my younger sister. It was an honor and one I took seriously.
To be clear though – my kids fight. They get on each other’s nerves and yell at each other. It isn’t like this 24/7. But there are moments like this that make me forget all the bickering that siblings do. I never take them for granted. Never am not awed by them. Never forget to document them.
I know how precious they are. I spent my childhood longing for moments like that.
It’s my absolute favorite part of parenting. The love between my two girls.
It is the definition of all that is right in my life. Made better only by the fact that it happened on its own.
I wish them a lifetime of little hands on backs and being held in each other’s arms when they are too big for such a thing.
I wish them that one day when their love for each other is in question – that they read this – and remember that long ago – once upon a time – loving and trusting each other was enough.