It’s Thanksgiving and today I have been counting my lucky stars and will be posting them over the next few weeks. My first post is about My Girl and is currently in her email inbox awaiting her approval. I’ve written another one about The Best Man. There are more than need to be written, too.
My baby sister, on the other hand, is just going to have to be surprised.
When you’re almost ten and a new baby arrives on the scene, it’s a bit of a novelty. In fact, we thought it was such a cool, new thing that we talked Mom into bringing her to school for Show and Tell. Why no one had ever thought of bringing a baby for Show and Tell before, I don’t know. But we did it. After all, it was the most exciting event in our lives.
The excitement wore off about two weeks later when Middle Sis and I were tossing and turning in our shared bed, exhausted but unable to sleep because of the crying baby. “Suzeeeeeeee, please, please, please just go to SLEEP!” But pretty soon she learned the ropes and established her own special place in the family.
Being ten years apart means you have a different kind of sibling relationship – the kind where you’re old enough to drive and take her to the State Fair, just the two of you. Or you go rafting, something Mom would never let a 8-year-old do except that she just couldn’t argue against the persistence of the 18-year-old any longer. And then the 8-year-old never comes close to drowning like our mother feared, but she does see her first naked stranger. (A man standing on the shore with a bag over his head. I am embarrassed for all of us. She yells, “Why are you naked? Why do you have a bag over your head? Are you ashamed of your body?” This was not teasing – she just wanted to know. Baby Sis is very practical – she wants answers that make sense.)
Or you do something similar to Show and Tell and you invite her to spend her Easter vacation sleeping on the floor of your dorm room. In return, she writes you charming 9-year-old letters and clips Doonesbury from the paper for you. She was pretty sharp for a 9-year-old – she got the political jokes. And she was lots of fun.
Smart. Fun. Smart in funny ways. Funny in smart ways.
Like the time she was six and drew a picture of the family that alarmed the school psychologist: Dad tallest, then Mom, then me, then Middle Sis, then her, then the dog. To the psychologist this mean that our Baby Sis had low self-esteem, i.e., she thought that she was only a little better than the dog. Mom pointed out that she was, in fact, smallest; but the psychologist was adamant – children did not develop the sense of relative body-size until age nine. When Mom was relating this ridiculous story back to us, it was Baby Sis who pointed out that the school just gave her an intelligence test that said she had the intelligence of a 9-year-old and the psychologist should have a copy of the test, so what’s the big deal? Smart in funny ways.
Then there was the elaborate practical joke she played on one of the higher-ups at her job (a nice guy who, by coincidence, is the son of a family friend). They were moving to a new facility, a major relocation which also involved a great deal of new furnishings and equipment. In amongst the various proposals, price quotes, and purchase orders, she submits a package outlining the details involved in a last-minute change: the addition of a duck pond. Duck pond? What duck pond? Where are we getting the budget for a duck pond? Who OK’d this? The higher-up briefly panics, until he sees who submitted it. Funny in smart ways.
She is like me in many ways. Once, when she was 22 and I was 32, I saw her walking down the street wearing a business suit and did a double-take, who was this person that looked so much like me? Oh, it’s you!
Or there was the time I noticed that my daughter sounded a lot like my Baby Sis. How could that be when she only saw her once or twice a year? Oh. Maybe both of them sound like me. (Of course, said my friends. The three of you are peas in a pod.)
We have similar viewpoints on many things. Sometimes she’ll run things by me just for my opinion – yeah, that’s what I thought, too.
But more importantly, she is her own unique self in ways that no one else is. Approaching middle-age, she’s still a kid at heart. She gets so into the spirit of things: games, holidays, whatever, that she was given the honorary title at work of “Hoopla In-Charge” – responsible for all things celebratory. We are all cutthroat trivia players and quite good at it, but when it comes to Star Wars trivia we now have two teams: Baby Sis versus Everyone Else. And she wins. Decisively. She’s good at games. Even better, she’s good at the important stuff like Truth, Justice, and the American Way, Doing the Right Thing, and all that.
Interested in everything, she is the sun personified. And I thank my lucky stars for her.