An only child, or a child who doesn’t have a sibling yet, simply cannot understand just how much fun a sibling can be. It isn’t their fault, and it isn’t that they don’t want to play with other kids, it’s just that they don’t have a lot of other kids around on a regular basis. Those kids simply learn to be around adults, or they learn to entertain themselves. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with this in any way, just that when there is a sibling in the family, things change.
For two years, my sister, Cheryl Masterson was an only child, but then I came along, and those days were over. I know that she was very excited about having a little sister, even though she did have a cousin, Pam Wendling, who lived just on the other side of the back fence, but I was her first sibling. We used to have lots of fun together, like most siblings do. It’s just something new, and even later on, you always have a friend. Sisters as you know are forever friends.
Once, Cheryl had a little sister, life as she knew it changed. As kids, we did a lot of things together. I recall movies, in which Cheryl tried to keep up with me in a crawling race, and apparently, I was too fast for her, because she ended up standing up to try to beat me across the room. That isn’t so odd, when you consider that most of us quit crawling when we learn to walk. That would tend to make us a little bit slower when it came to crawling in a race. Anyway, in crawling races, I won and she lost. I’m sure that when it came to walking races, she had it over me, because after all, I had to crawl, since I hadn’t learned to walk yet.
The biggest problem that Cheryl had, as far as our time together was concerned, was when I was napping and she was awake. Once a child has a sibling, they don’t like waiting for their sibling to wake up when they want to play. That naptime thing can seem endless. They begin to wonder if that kid is ever going to wake up. There is fun to be had, games to play, and well, just stuff to do, and all that kid wants to do is sleep.
That was where Cheryl found herself on one particular occassion. I was sleeping and apparently she had taken her nap and was now waiting for me to wake up. I guess I was taking too long, because, she started to ask Mom why they couldn’t just wake me up. Well, I don’t know if I was grouchy if they woke me up early, or what, but I guess Mom wasn’t too keen on the idea. Cheryl, on the other hand looks very annoyed that I was sleeping, and Mom would do nothing about it. Sorry Cheryl, if I had only known, I would have woke up just for you, but I simply had no idea, because, I was asleep.
In any family, it seems that the younger children are treated differently than the older ones. They seem to get away with more, and probably get to do things earlier than the older kids. I think the main reason for this is that the parents got used to being parents. The things you worry about as new parents, like crawling around on a floor that isn’t totally sanitized, a bottle that fell on the floor going right back into the mouth, or eating dirt…for pity sakes, are just things a new parent would never allow.
Then, as the child gets a little older, and the parents see them eating worms, along with that dirt, it just gets to a point where they know the kid won’t break. Then when the younger kids come along…well, veteran parents know the ropes, and they know that you can’t control everything that happens in your kids lives. Things are just different.
Suddenly, spending the night with grandparents is ok at 2, instead of 4, and in this day and age, they get their first cell phone in kindergarten or first grade. Of course, when you think about it, these kids know more about the computer by 3 than a lot of their parents do, so I suppose it seems like they are really just little adults.
This change in the rules isn’t really their parents fault, it is just a fact of life. It has been going on for years. I think I might have been one of the last of the parents to make my girls do things by ages, but then they were only eleven months apart. Amy didn’t have to wait very long anyway.
When there are a few years between the kids, it seems like the lines of fairness and ages get blurred some, and unless the older child is right there to remind them that their younger sibling isn’t supposed to get to do stuff earlier than they did, things just slip past them, and before they realize it those younger ones are doing things two years ahead of their older siblings. And when they do realize it, the now veteran parent shrugs their shoulders and calmly remarks, “Oh well, these things happen.” I guess being the youngest ones has its perks, in some ways anyway.
When my brother-in-law, Ron was about 10 years old, he had an Irish Setter dog named, what else…Red. Ron loved that dog, and they were pretty much inseparable. Ron was trying very hard to teach his dog as many trick as he thought the dog could learn. It doesn’t seem to me that he was having a lot of success with most of them, but when he patted his own shoulders, the dog knew it meant to stand on his hind legs and put his front paws on Ron’s shoulders. It soon became their favorite form of play. Red loved Ron, and wanted to be with him all the time, but sometimes Ron had chores to do.
About that time Bob and I were living on the same property as his parents, while we got our land ready to move onto. Corrie was 2 years old, and Amy was 1 year old. Ron was always playing with Red in the yard, and that was also where the girls played. That was just how it had to be, the yard was a shared space. The girls never minded playing out there, because when Ron was out there, they had a great time. Of course, the girls were interested in the play with the new dog, and they watched intently. But as little girls do, they lost interest pretty fast.
Eventually, they started going out in the yard playing their own games, and this too, would have been fine, except for one thing. Red, had been learning the best way to play with people. As Corrie walked out into the yard, he bounded over to her and…you guessed it, put his paws on her shoulders, knocking her down immediately. As her high pitched screams hit the air, Red retreated…in a big hurry. I think I might have done the same thing if I were Red, because Corrie could really scream.
Amy had a little bit different encounter with Red, because the dog seemed to understand that a crawling child was very different from a walking child. Amy could crawl around under Red’s feet, and was very careful. He never stepped on her or scared her in any way, but with Corrie, he just didn’t get it. Walking kids should be big enough to do Red’s favorite trick. He was bewildered by this problem. Finally he quit trying, because I’m sure those screams were scary. Unfortunately it took Corrie a number of years to trust dogs again…any dogs. I can’t blame Red for this, because after all, he was just playing.
When my mom was a little girl, her favorite and most comfortable way to sit was in a full straddle split. Being a gymnast in my own youth, I know that the straddle split was the ultimate move, and there weren’t very many gymnasts that could do it. For that reason, those who could do it were always envied. Well, my mom was one of those people. In fact, she was so comfortable doing the straddle splits, and not really comfortable sitting in other ways, so that is how she usually sat on the floor. Now if that would have been me, well…OUCH!!! Whenever Mom told me about the way she was able to sit, I remember feeling just a little bit sorry that I had not taken after her in that area. Of course, she cqn’t do the straddle splits anymore, but there was a time when she would have been the envy of a lot of girls in the sport of gymnastics.
I have recently come across a picture of my niece, Jenny that tells me that, at least in that one way, Jenny took after my mom, although she doesn’t resemble her in any other way that I know of. Jenny has always loved all things that had to do with gymnastics and dance, and as you can see, she was very good at the coveted straddle splits. I don’t know if she still does the splits, or even if she can, but Jenny is a great dancer. She does Zumba and Belly Dancing, as well as any other form, I’m sure. And being a very girly girl, she loves the costumes that go along with dance, especially the belly dancing. I’m also sure that her little daughter, who is due to arrive in August will also be an amazing dancer and gymnast. After all, her Mommy is one of the very best, and I’m sure that dance will be something the two of them will enjoy sharing.
Jenny’s niece, Audrianna, Anna for short, also seems to have taken after my mom and her Aunt Jenny. From the time she was a little teeny girl, she could also do the straddle splits. Now, Anna was probably the most unusual of the three in that she was able to take them one step further. The first time I saw Anna do her little trick, she had barely learned to sit up. We were on the mountain for a family picnic, and her mom sat her down on a blanket in the shade of a tree. She sat there for a little while, and then she moved her legs out into a straddle split sit. As I watched her, I was amazed that she could do the straddle splits…but, I was even more amazed at what she did next! That little tiny girl brought her legs all the way into the straddle split and then on around so that she was laying on her stomach and ready to crawl away!! I was shocked. I have never seen anyone who was able to do that!! But our little Anna could.Now that is something for the gymnasts to really be envious of!!
I was born the second of 5 girls, with no brothers. For 3 years it would be just my older sister, Cheryl and me, and I am blessed enough to say, “She loved me!” While there would be years when Cheryl and I would fight like cats and dogs, most of our lives have been lived as good friends. Cheryl loved being the big sister, and I always looked up to her. Somehow, she was always the cool one, with a sense of class and sophistication, and I was…well, not. I was much more shy, and awkward, except when it came to gymnastics. I could do that without trouble, but when it came to being one of the kids that fit in with the crowd, I just really didn’t. I guess I was more of a geek, and these days that is cool, but it wasn’t back then.
As I said, I did well in gymnastics and pretty much anything else like that. When Cheryl and I were little, probably about 3 and 1, I could crawl as fast as many kids could run. Mom has movies of me crawling across the floor, and Cheryl trying to keep up by crawling along beside me, but after quickly losing ground, she would have to get up and run to catch up with me. Then she would try to crawl again and would get behind again. The movies look pretty funny. It was the one place I could beat her I guess.
For most of our lives, it didn’t matter who had the upper hand, except in our teenage years, when it didn’t matter what we did, it always ended up in a fight. I’m quite sure it was because I was smart alecky, but I’m not admitting to anything like that, so don’t quote me on it. I will say that I had the ability to be a little aggravating, and my poor sister, Cheryl had to deal with that a lot.
Nevertheless, as the years have gone by, I have learned the value of such a wonderful sister as mine. When the going gets tough, you can always count on her to be there for you. She possesses a quiet strength and an ability to move past irritations and on to peace. That is a wonderful quality, and one I wish I had. I watch her and how she does things, and I try to run my life like she does. I am not saying that she never gets annoyed, or even downright angry, but she is much quicker to move past that and on to peace than I have been able to do. She is my mentor in so many ways, and a role model that I can always respect. And Cheryl, “I love you too!!”