Friday, January 23, 2009


It's amazing to me to watch my two little girls in their interactions together. Their personalities are very different, polar opposites in fact. They share a love of drama, of theatre and dance. And neither of my children are shy. I would say that they are both outgoing, confident and friendly. Also both have a very compassionate nature. If they see someone being hurt or bullied, even on tv, they will change the channel or turn it off. It truly bothers them.

But in some ways, it's like watching history repeat itself for me. For though they obviously are their own unique little individuals, they share many similarities between my sister and I.

My sister is 4.5 years older than me. My eldest is 4 years older than my youngest. My sister is also artistic and sensitive. She always loved "beauty" stuff like makeup and clothes and frills and jewellery. She modelled and still does occasionally. She had a temper as a child, but more of a slow fuse that was even more scary than my quick to explode but quick to cool temperament. In other words, you needed to sleep with one eye open if she was mad at you. When she was a young girl (ie before I was born!) she hated being dirty and didn't like playing with the other kids in her preschool, because they didn't wash their hands. Shudder. She liked dresses and bows and staying clean. She didn't yell or break things. She could be counted on to listen and not touch what she wasn't supposed to touch.

That's all very much like my eldest daughter, A. She was the type of little kid that I could have left in a room with dangers and toxic chemicals (not that I WOULD) and she would have sat right where I left her. If other children were fighting around her, she would simply remove herself from the situation and play on her own. Her artistic talents amaze me. She truly has a gift. When she was about three years old, her grandma taught her to sew. She started making her own doll clothing, barbie clothing, and even skirts and purses for herself. She can look at an abstract piece of fabric and not measure or draw anything on it, just cut and sew and VOILA. It comes out perfect. She was always the child that stayed clean, played gently, and rarely lost her cool.

Now that she's a bit older, I'm seeing that other side of her that resembles my sister as well. That scary, eerie, quiet temper. Her interactions with her sister remind me so much of the two of us growing up, it's frankly a little disconcerting. She wants her privacy. She doesn't want her sister touching her makeup or hair elastics or art supplies. She tends to keep her emotions more to her self, but then will let it all out a week after an incident has occurred.

Now, as a child, I was the opposite to all of that. I was loud, outgoing, and if a fight broke out, I was usually at the center. I was the child that if you told not to do something, and created barriers to prevent me from doing so, would figure out a way to do it anyways. My mom came into the kitchen when I was three, and I was standing on a chair with a ruler in my hand, trying to knock out the hook from the latch at the top of the door frame leading to our steep basement stairs. I had(umm, okay, have) a fiery temper. I'm quick to snap, but quick to move on. I'm sensitive, but hate to show it. I'm also very bossy and stubborn. I'm creative, but in a totally different way. I was the kid that was ALWAYS dirty and messy and cut or scraped up. I fractured my jaw at age three. I learned to ride my two wheeler by my sister pushing me down a hill. I rode my bike down a ravine and landed with my chin on my handle bars. I fell off the top of the jungle gym beam (you know the one over the tire) that I was walking across, in the winter. Many of my teeth were punched out rather than lost completely on their own. Ya, I was THAT kid. My Mom said she knew if the school was calling, it was likely about me.

Yet, on the other hand, I am anal. I am very organized and neat. I would have a temper tantrum and throw everything I owned around my room, and then quickly clean the whole thing up again because it drove me crazy that it was "out of place." I alphabetized my CD collection as a teen. I've told you that I was always trying to be top of the class with my grades. I was loving and liked cuddling, on my own time.

And that's my youngest, Miss B, to a T. She can go from being the funniest kid you've ever met (her one liners are hilarious!) to being the grumpiest. All in the space of 5 minutes. Her temper is legendary. Yet, as quickly as it flares up, it also recedes. Her room is always neat and tidy. If she takes something out, she folds it and puts it away. When she plays with something, she then puts it back in it's place. She clucks her teeth at her sisters room or the state of her sisters drawers. Her feelings are easily hurt, but trust me when I say, she makes sure you KNOW it. She can be the sweetest, most compassionate girl I've ever met. Or she can take you down in one fell swoop. She hates jewellery beyond reason. She won't even let it touch her skin. I swear she's accident prone because she's had more spills over the smallest crack in a sidewalk or tiniest bump in the grass, than any child I've ever known.

And when I see the two of them together, it's like a grainy snapshot of another time. My youngest thinks her sister is fascinating. She wants to be with her all of the time, do what she does. My eldest often tolerates it, at her whim, but also will lose her cool and tell her little sister to "beat it." Other times, they can play for hours, laughing and joking. The fights over the bathroom mirror and sink have also already started.

I wonder if it's all just a normal "sister" thing, this dichotomy of love and hate. A natural sister dance of togetherness and retreat. My sister and I did it for many years, and it's like history in the remaking.

The difference this time, I hope, will be the ongoing forging of that sisterly bond. We grew up in a difficult environment for many years, and my sister moved out at sixteen. The years after that created a wall between us that grew higher and higher. Our opposing traits seemed insurmountable. And who we "could have been" was altered and likely stifled during those formative years. My daughters have the freedom to be who they are and have those differences not only encouraged, but fostered. I want them to know that even though they are very different, neither one of their choices or personalities is "better" than the other. Neither is in the wrong. I want them to celebrate each others unique qualities, loving each other not in spite of their differences, but BECAUSE of them.

I've learned now, as an adult, that the qualities that my sister has are often areas where I lack. She shows me a whole other way of thinking or responding that I hadn't thought of, or that doesn't come naturally to me. And I also realize now, we are actually more similar than I thought. We share the same dry wit. We are both sarcastic and a little OCD. We are both incredibly stubborn and hard to please.

And, in a lot of ways, I'm still that little sister that wants to do what my sisters doing. I'm still fascinated by her artistic skills. I'm still in awe of the way she can do makeup, or fix someones hair. I still see her as my more beautiful sister. I think I just understand her a little better now. Maybe it's that we aren't fighting for the mirror.

But I still like to borrow her stuff. Shhhh!


  1. ok listen--stay out of my stuff !!LOL I'll know if its been moved...You have me tearing up here but its in a good way. Of course I'm older therefore wiser but I find more and more to learn from you all the time--I just wasn't looking before due to obstacles and I am forever grateful that they are down now. Love you!

  2. Aww almost makes me want to reach out to my older sister but ... well you've met her ....