I enjoy watching the interaction when our oldest girls get to see each other at break from college. They act like children again. They’re only three years apart, so they spent a lot of time together over the course of their short lives and while they love their little sister, they haven’t shared with her what they’ve shared with each other. Thinking back to my childhood I see how close they are, similar to my two older brothers for the same reasons.
My girls think their little sister is somewhat spoiled or not held to the same standards they were, similar to my brothers thought process at that same age regarding me, but there is no substitute for reliving past memories with a sibling. The same stories told in almost the exact same way bring joy to the past participants and shore up the bond that old memories help create.
I chuckle to myself as I think of some of my own. The Christmas Bobby, Sheral and I all got new bikes is a standout, not for just the best Christmas presents ever for us, but for the memory of the look on our oldest brother Dean’s face when he opened his present to find a new typewriter!
I’ll never forget that sheepish smile on his face as he tried to not hurt our mom and dad’s feelings. The time I shot Bobby with a sling shot as hard as humanly possible comes to mind… He dropped off the swing set like a dead man, although I didn’t hang around to find out one way or the other, I ran just as fast as I could!
Right around the same time Dean was teaching Sheral to shoot a BB gun… Somehow I ended up getting shot in the process, but we never did tell our parents about any of the accidents. Everyone has those similar stories of the struggles through childhood shared with their siblings that somehow create a bond like soldiers in wartime.
My kids have theirs as well. Kenz and Ali made a pact not to tell who wrote Ali’s name on her stomach in indelible ink. Ali was to young to write her name at the time, so that left her big sister as the prime suspect, but the two held that secret until Kenz was a teenager.
The three of them decided to walk to the store to get their mom a present for what I think was Mother’s Day. They weren’t allowed to go to the store by themselves and Karson was too little to walk that far, so they put her in a wagon to accomplish their task. We didn’t find out until a year later where the scratches on her hands and face came from. Turns out the wagon tipped over on a corner taken faster than the wagon was designed for.
When you’re a child you live by the code of siblings. That code states you have to trust each other with secrets. The parents aren’t the enemy, they’re more like Generals of the Army. In my case the oldest is the Colonel, second oldest is the Captain, third is the Sgt., and for those of you who are the youngest, or close to the bottom of a big family know the title for the youngest ones like me; Private.
The interesting thing about that code is you never quite outgrow it… The oldest still call the shots in most cases. Several years back my mom and dad had their 50th anniversary, but I was busy with work and didn’t have time for the 3 1/2 hour trip. My oldest brother called after he learned that I couldn’t attend the surprise anniversary party for our parents. He simply said, “Floyd, I think you should be there.” That’s all it took.
Of course, he was right. I know what my children are still figuring out.
“You gotta stick to the code.”