Friday, January 20, 2017

Sibling Rivalry and The One True Test

There's this refreshing thing called...THE TRUTH. And I'm gonna give it to ya.  If someone tells you their kids are perfect or they don't really have problems, they're lying.  They either have a shock waiting down the road, or their kids aren't honest with them.  That's what I told myself anyway after my two oldest kids had just said they hated each other.
    We sat on my bed and they each held three sheets of paper and a pencil.
    "Okay, did you finish the first question?" I asked.  They were supposed to write down if they'd ever done something nice for each other, and if so, what it had been.  "Question number two, this is for your second piece of paper, if you could do anything fun with your sister, what would that be?"
    They wrote so quickly, immediately knowing the answer, and I found myself surprised.
    The thing about The Scribe and The Hippie is that they are complete opposites.  The Scribe is punctual and goal-driven.  She leaves for high school extremely early, just to account for weather, and bad drivers.  Meanwhile, The Hippie is the most carefree person on earth.  "Late, what do you mean, we're late?" she'll say.  Then she'll saunter around, slowly gathering her backpack, her coat.  Then she'll gently, ever so gracefully pull on one sock, then the other.  Meanwhile The Scribe has balled fists and a red face--she's about to stomp on the ground, explode with pure nerves....  Yes, these are my oldest children.  And I, think it's sort of hilarious--I know I'm not supposed to say that. 
    They're the perfect balance for each other. The Hippie teaches The Scribe how to let loose; The Scribe teaches her sister how to be responsible.
    "One more questions, for your third paper," I said. "What's something you would say nice about your sister?"  This question took f.o.r.e.v.e.r. for them to answer. In fact, I became so freakin' bored, that I rested on my back and just started humming the Death March--because if they couldn't think of something nice to say, I might just die.
    "Done!" The Scribe said after almost all of my hair had turned gray. She placed her pencil perfectly on her stack of papers and sat straight.
    "Done!" The Hippie said, and threw her pencil onto her disheveled pile.  She sat--as straight as a politician.
    "Trade," I told them.  And write your thoughts underneath what you sister has said.  As soon as you're done, we'll read everything."
     Half the time--as a mother, and probably in life too--I feel like I'm flying blind.  There are all of these crazy choices, like, do I let them wear booty shorts, and how many chores SHOULD they be doing?  My grandma always told me people are either good at raising babies or teenagers.  What happens if I'm not perfect at either?!  Freakin' woe is me.
    I went and checked on my two youngest kids at this point.  And they were both, leaning into the bedroom door with their ears to it.  "You two!" I said, as they fell into the room. 
    "Mama," The Zombie Elf said, "I've decided something.  I never want to be a teenager. They are crazy."
    "Yeah," Dr. Jones, my six-year-old girl agreed, "they're super-weird."
    I set them up in the front room with pieces of moon (which please don't tell them, but it's cheddar cheese with cumin sprinkled on top--I think they already know it's not moon dust, but those givers pretend for my sake).  
    "So, let's do this." I went back into the bedroom and read the papers aloud.  "Number one: Have you ever done something nice for your sister?  Hippie, you wrote, she thinks she's being nice, but I'm not girly like she is, painting my nails, doing my hair, and giving me a facial, wasn't something I even wanted. That's what SHE likes!"    
    "And asking me to play basketball with you," The Scribe jumped in, "that was something nice?  You know I'm not into that."
    "So, how can we solve this?" I asked.
    "I guess I can try to play basketball," The Scribe mumbled.
    "Well, you could, but actually what you should both do is think of what the other person would like, before just doing something you want done for you. An ideas?"
    The Hippie had totally lit up, almost mischievously. "I could give The Scribe a facial! She'll never forget it. I'll--"
    "Hey, now.... That's a great idea, actually." I forced a smile. God help me. "You both get the point.  Think of the other person.  Okay, what was the next page?" I asked.  This whole flying blind stuff, really shows sometimes! 
    "If you could do anything fun with your sister, what would that be," The Scribe said.  "I put get a fancy drink and go shopping. She put play basketball and videogames."  She'd said this in such a freakin' monotone. I could tell...I was really...getting...through.
    "Are you two seeing a trend here? You're different.  You keep fighting so much because you expect...?"
    "I expect her to be just like me," The Hippie said.
    "And I want her to be like me," The Scibe admitted.
    "Well, here's what we're going to do.  You'll set up a day when both of you get to plan a date with each other.  But it has to be something your sister would want NOT what you want.  Got it?"
    They nodded.
    "Last page.  You know what, I'll let you read these out loud."  I swapped the papers and handed them back.
    The Scribe read, "The Scribe is one of the funniest people I know. Everyone likes being around her. She makes life really happy for everyone."  Then her eyes scanned down to what she'd written at the bottom. "I never knew The Hippie felt this way about me. I'm kinda surprised, but in a good way." She smiled at her sister.
   The Hippie held out her paper and read, "The Hippie is really smart and so good at everything. I miss when we got along when we were little." The Hippie took a deep breath. "I didn't expect that. I miss when we were little too, Scribe."
    They sat on opposite sides of the bed, then suddenly both scooted closer at the same time, and papers still in-hand, gave one another a hug.
    Sure, they were fighting like rabid dogs the next morning at breakfast, but for that small moment, after reading those papers, my life was gravy.
    So, the sister date will be next weekend.  I'll let you know how it goes.  Here's hoping for the best!

Livin' the dream and fumblin' through...again,
Elisa :)