“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Sibling Connection

I shared a room with my sister until I was twelve. This means that in conversations, I might say something like, "I shared a room with my sister, but only when I was little."

On the other hand--and my sister only just recently pointed this out to me--the six year age difference between us means that she had to share a room with me until she was eighteen. That's, like, a really long time. Poor Jane. No wonder she was so scarred. And rumor has it I was kind of annoying.

I do remember there being good times, like when she let me climb into her bed once during a violent thunderstorm (though if you think about it, over the course of twelve years, there were probably dozens of thunderstorms and she only reached out that one time). When I was six, she bought me my first Barbie and built me a dollhouse out of crates and boxes in our closet. A few weeks later she dismantled it because it was in her way, but still. The initial thought was so nice.

I always believed my parents put on the addition and gave us our own rooms because they simply felt like remodeling and having a fancy master bedroom. Apparently, this is not true. Apparently, they already had a perfectly lovely master bedroom and built the addition because my sister hated sharing a room with me so much she threatened terrible things. Like leaving home and going away to college.

And yet now, my insane sons want to share a room. They request it almost nightly. And it isn't just my own experience that makes this mind-boggling to me, it's how different the boys are. Almost incompatible. Joey is an angel sleeper, and Noah is...um, well, he's Noah. "Sleep is NOT my thing." He's always surprised when I announce bedtime, like perhaps I'll just see reason and understand that bedtime is a heap of nonsense. "Bedtime!" He scowls and scoffs. He rolls his eyes. He flops over backward, hand over forehead.

But while Joey bemoans his brother's noisy and annoying habits, they continue to enthusiastically request to sleep in the same room. At first I thought it could be for moral support, since they both suffer from vivid and terrifying nightmares (they must dream about losing me, poor dears). But then they both call out for me, anyway, forcing me to grumble and mutter sophomoric things like, "WTF" as I trudge up the stairs to save the freaking day. Again.

I thought maybe it was for company. Both boys wake up absurdly early every day (regardless of bed time), so I waited for them to chat and giggle with flashlights like they do before they fall asleep. Or something. But, no. They argued and called out, "Mo-om! Noah's shaking the ladder on the bunk bed!" or "Mo-om! Joey's cup fell off the top bunk and hit my head!" Nice.

So then I have to give up trying to figure out the details of why my kids are weird and just accept that maybe they really like each other. Jane and I didn't for a long time, but I guess that's where birth order and age difference come in. Or gender. But what really seems to matter is the connection. I find that when I take my boys out in the world and one or both of them has a friend to play with, they still look for each other. No matter where we are, one finds his way to his brother. I think they feel more secure that way. And I know that for me, even if sharing a room didn't work out for us, things are just more real when I share them with my sister. Favorite television shows, books, movies, secrets...everything bears more weight and substance after I've discussed it with her.

This is something my husband cannot understand, and when the phone rings for the second or third time in one day I watch him furrow his brow or roll his eyes. Sometimes he mutters a, "Didn't you just talk to her?" It's the same kind of thing that happened on a play date with the boys last week. Noah continued to wander away from his friend to go see what his brother was doing. Someone perfectly great was right in front of him, but there was this need to connect with Joey. It's what siblings are for, I guess, at least, it's always been that way for me. I would have thought it was weird if my kids were any different. God gives you a person who will love you no matter what you do, who will listen no matter how stupid you are, who will know you when you don't know yourself. Someone you can sit next to and not have to say anything. Someone who knows where you come from better than anybody else, who had the same crazy mother and the same father who called bathrobes "housecoats" and could never EVER be asked for homework help because he just gave you extra work.

I admit I sometimes feel left out when Joey and Noah form a sort of unit that I'm not a part of, but I also love when I'm just about to close the bedroom door, and in the glow of the twinkle lights wrapped around their footboards, I see two little blond heads peeking out from beneath piles of blankets in the bunkbeds. As I pull the door shut, I hear a whisper, "Joey? Are you awake?" and an answer, "Go to sleep, Noah." By the time my foot hits the bottom stair, there is giggling.

P.S.--If this post seems slightly disjointed, it's because my sister called in the middle of my writing it.

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