Col and Rose have spent almost every waking moment of summer together. And sometimes that togetherness is accompanied by angels singing joyfully about collaboration and kinship. Like when Rose lassoes Col’s leg and drags him through the house on his back like he’s an enormous halibut. They’re shrieking with laughter and I’m stirring something at the stove, thinking they’re so lucky to have each other, while my heart swells in its bony cage.
And then today they’re both stalking around gravely, eyeing each other up like hit men out of work. Rose is in the playroom, alternating between hula hooping and holding her hand over the light switch. “I just want to keep it off, Col! So we don’t waste batteries!” Col is pretzeled into the small space not invaded by an orbiting hula hoop. “But you’re NOT the boss of the playroom!” Col sneaks a leg out in Rose’s direction, a leg one could easily trip over. (The “playroom” also happens to be where Rose sleeps, while Col sleeps in a room slightly larger than a closet, but is mostly “his.” Hello, 800 square foot house). I breeze in all merrily as if I didn’t just interrupt two coiled and poisonous snakes ready to strike. “How about I’ll just open the curtains – that should let in enough light.”
But it’s not about light, really, it’s more about being bored and prickly and staring at the same face across the breakfast table for your entire life while spooning another bite of cereal into your mouth. I have to remember that they see each other differently than I do. To me they’re individuals inside a package—inside the very swaddling blanket of our family—complementary even in their differentness. To each other, they’re contenders. Contenders for parental love, for the equal doling out of grapes, for who gets the best toy at the dentist.
It’s like an arranged marriage—siblinghood—and you’d think that since Col and Rose’s genes were selected from the same soup stock, that they’d be a pretty good match. And really, they are, even if much of what they gain from their togetherness is an understanding of how people are different.
~while Col is scouring the surface of the Earth for treasure, Rose is whirling around performing Act VXIX of her one woman rock opera~
~Karen, who lives downstairs and is a love, gave both the kids a can of fizzy water. While Rose was thrilled to sip something fancy out of a can…~
~Col was more curious about how it might react with mud~
If siblinghood is like an arranged marriage, then I wish I could drag Col and Rose to the alter and prod them into pledging to share magnanimously and to not shoot rubber bands at each others’ heads. But even more than that, I’d wish for the waves of their quarrels to wash calmly over me, as I stand stirring something at the stove. Because usually while I’m still wringing my mind over sibling meanness, they’re off playing a new game.
Yesterday I was telling Rose her birth story, about how Dan placed her tiny self in my arms and how surprisingly plump and dark she was, and how she immediately knew how to nurse and …
“Did I know I had a brother?” She interrupted.
Somehow darling, I think you did.