Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Little Sis!

Today is my little sis’s birthday. The story goes that shortly after they brought her home from the hospital; I came perilously close to sticking my fingers in her eyes. I am told that I had a rather evil look on my face and my parents could read the complete disdain that was registering in my two-year-old brain without any need for words. For the record, my fingers never connected with anything more than air.

My hunch is that my parents or someone else had probably fed me the line about having a wonderful new playmate. Let me tell you, that mewling, mother-stealing creature wasn’t my idea of a perfect playmate and all the “oh, look at the cute baby” comments in the world wouldn’t change my mind.

However, the creature did turn into a sweet tempered baby, much more of a laid-back person than yours truly, and she became my very first BFF. It helped that her laid-back nature let me boss her around in the way only a big sister can, and whether it was paper dolls, Barbies or the game, “Colored eggs”, I usually set the agenda for our play.

As our world expanded to include other children, my little sister often took a back seat to my own budding socialization skills. Often, my mother would make me take little sis with me when I went to a friend’s house to play. Very often, the friend would be our neighbor, Debbie.

Debbie was a whole year older than I and she went to Catholic school. Now there is a definite pecking order to childhood play and being older and therefore more experienced gave Deb the natural advantage, especially when we played school, and especially when we played school in her basement.

Those nuns must have been tough at Deb’s school, because she was a tough teacher with her make believe students, little sis and I. In fact, on one occasion she gave my sister a big fat “F” on one of her papers. I’m not sure if my sister knew exactly what an F was, but she knew it was bad. Proving that she was not nearly as laid-back as she appeared, she took immediate umbrage and marched her little feet all the way up Deb’s basement steps.

We probably had a look of “what’s her problem” written all over our faces, but her problem became our problem when my sister ran smack dab into Deb’s father, George. I don’t know how the conversation went, but a few minutes later both Deb and I were called on the carpet and instructed that we were never, and he meant NEVER allowed to give my sister an “F” again. George had taken a shine to my little sister, and he would check in and make sure we were following his instructions – you might say, to the letter.

My sister learned how to read when I did. I would come home and teach her the words that I had learned that day. She was like a sponge, soaking up every new word I threw at her. I would shuffle flash cards at her, and she would always get them right, without any hesitation. I knew when she sounded out the word ‘vegetable” in one of the “Flicka, Ricka and Dicka” books that I was enamored with that summer that the pupil had out mastered the teacher. She was only four.

When we moved out of our old neighborhood, we were sad that we left behind all of our old friends. But that sadness was tempered with the knowledge that each of us still had our oldest playmate, we still had each other.

My sister and I have very different personalities. She is pragmatic, while I’m often in the clouds. She loves to be out with people, while I yearn for time to myself. She is the conservative and I am the liberal. Yet for all of our differences we have an unbreakable bond. She is the keeper of my childhood memories, and I the keeper of hers. We have a history of shared secrets and the knowledge of shared dreams. She is my sister, my very first best friend, and the one who has known me longest. I love her dearly.

Today is her birthday. Happy birthday little sis – I hope all your wishes come true.

Your bossy big sister

Note: Originally Published on News-Messenger Website, April 9, 2008

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