If there is one thing I don’t regret in life, it is having a sibling for my men-children. Apart from a natural longing for more children following our twin boys, somehow it just felt right to have more than the perfect “two-some” in our family. No doubt the fact that both Father of a Man-Child and I were both from families with four children contributed to that, a desire for the chaos and joy that goes with more kids.
Of course it did take us 7 years to come around to the idea before we welcomed Sister of a Man-Child into the world, but we wouldn’t replace her for anything. As 7-year-olds, the boys adored their baby sister. Funnily enough at about 4 years old they had both placed an order for a baby sister, so how lucky they were. She was completely doted on by them as a baby – they spent enormous amounts of time looking after her, helping her, playing with her, competing for her attention, and importantly realising they were no longer the centre of the universe. Although to be fair, as there were already two of them from birth, I think they had already had to learn that lesson from day one!
As they approached their teenage years, and the adolescent attitude reigned, I think they have been less than kind older brothers. Not because they don’t like their sister, but because they become so self-absorbed at that age, that everyone else except peers is irrelevant to them. Of course the boys’ girlfriends all adore our daughter – is it the female nurturing nature that brings that out in them?
Like all families, the dynamic between the kids varies substantially. One is generally nicer to his sister than the other. And one is more prone to teasing his sister – I suspect because they are very alike they tend to bring the worst out in each other. Just as the boys do the same to each other. But it has to be said, as they all get a bit older, I am starting to see the dynamic change again, for the better.
During the recent spontaneous but highly unusual clean up of one Man-Child’s bedroom, he kindly offered his prized Carlton football jumper to his younger sister, also a fan. He also recently helped his sister with a school project (with a fair bit of coaxing from his mother). As I pointed out to him, you can either be an arsehole or her hero – you pick!
Sister of a Man-Child also made her First Eucharist recently (that’s First Communion for anyone my age). Both boys found the Holy Crosses that they were given to mark their own First Communion, all the way from Rome if memory serves me, to show their sister. I was pleased to see they still had them and delighted to see them all on common ground as our daughter passes the same milestones during her primary school life as her brothers.
So it seems that they are edging slowly out of the teenage abyss, becoming nicer sons to their parents and nicer brothers to their sister. I hope they all have good relationships with each other as they get older, that are as healthy as mine with my siblings. Did you have older brothers? Were they nice to you or nasty when you were growing up? What is your relationship like with them now?