It takes two

Let’s start with this: several weeks ago I posted about the number five leading a good number of readers to believe I was announcing a new Elder. I can see how that happened. I can also assure you that I am not even a tiny bit pregnant, nor am I planning to be so ever again. See how I carefully used the word “planning” there. The world is weird, life is unpredictable, people change, and though my immediate response to anyone that inquires after our intent to grow the family is somewhere in the realm of “absofuckinglutely not,” there’s no way for me to guarantee a zero percent chance of it happening.

All of which is to say – Elderland is perfect with two kids.

Which brings me to the reason for today’s writing – sibling dynamics. While I certainly know plenty of people who grew up as only children and turned out to be successful, well-rounded, awesome adults, I am a firm advocate of bringing more than one child into a family. When I first conceived (PUN!) of this post, my idea was to start by writing a bit of an argument for the importance of siblings, but then I read this article from Time magazine and decided that this guy “Jeffrey Kluger” who has been a science and technology writer for 40 or so years probably did an okay enough job that I don’t need to offer any additional insight. So instead, I’d like to take this opportunity to speak specifically about our little pair of siblings.

Norah and Crosby are almost exactly two years apart and this was 100% planned. Granted, we didn’t start trying for number two until the month during which I’d have to get pregnant in order for this two year differential to occur, but given the fertility track record of both myself and others in my family, I was fairly certain all systems were a go. And in fact they were, almost remarkably so, which still makes me marvel at how I didn’t wind up preggers long before I intended to. Sometimes things just go right. Our plan for two years was based on a number of life considerations, but one of the principal reasons was that we believe two years (or thereabouts) to be ideal for making the most of a sibling relationship. This belief is based on nothing more than our experiences, both personal and with families of friends, and it felt right, so we went with it. After two and half years of experiencing life with two kids, I’ll call it hypothesis confirmed.

They do all of the things that all siblings before them have done when young and learning how to exist in the world. They battle over possessions and struggle with sharing. They whine when the other is taking up too much space and “touching” them. They compare what they have and raise holy hell if it’s not even. They beat each other up when no one is looking and then boldly lie about it. Like earlier this week, for example – Pete had buckled both children into their car seats and then closed the car doors and stepped away for a moment to grab one more thing before driving them to Grams and Grandma’s house. Upon getting back to the car, what he encountered was a crying Crosby with blood dripping down his cheek. His immediate inquisition of Norah received the response that “he must have fallen.” WHAT?! How does a 4.5 year old already have the capacity to so decisively feign innocence? Also, do better Norah. He’s buckled into a car seat. Digression! Point being, they’re siblings to the core, and we’re totally into it because every one of those interactions has an effect on their ability to function as adults. And as long as we parents do our part to teach lessons and get involved when appropriate, but encourage self resolve when not, the long term benefit will be great.

Even better? Norah and Crosby wholeheartedly love one another, and the ways in which they’ve begun to express this are enough to melt me into a sopping puddle of pride. Some stories…

I tend to leave for work somewhat early as I have a 30 minute commute and also enjoy getting to the office with ample time to coffee, breakfast and settle. My aim is 7:30, and even if I’m 10-15 minutes behind, on most mornings the kids are still in their beds. Regardless, I make it a point to go in their room and say goodbye, and many a morning they will already be awake, just hanging out and chatting. This alone warms my heart to no end. The overpowering moment of mom emotion came the other morning when I went in to find Norah standing next to Crosby’s bottom bunk, rubbing his back and singing him Twinkle. It was quite possibly the sweetest damn thing I’ve ever seen, so much so that I’m a bit weepy just writing about it.

On the weekends, our somewhat regular routine is for the kids to climb into our bed after waking up, and watch a little cartoons. Within five minutes or so of this happening, one or both usually says I’m hungry and this results in a couple small bowls of dry cereal making their way into the mix. On a recent weekend morning, Crosby followed me into the kitchen and asked that he be able to make his own bowl, which I happily obliged (I’m all about some independence!). After stepping away for a few to put some laundry up in the kids’ room, I returned to find Crosby carrying two bowls to the bed, and upon seeing me he said “I made Norah some cereal too!” My two and half year old thought to get his big sister some breakfast, and that absolutely kills me.

Both kids have been some sort of sick off and on for a couple months because well, it’s winter and they go to school, and enough said. Cros was the one with the worst of it this past week, and if you’re friends with us on Facebook you’ll recall seeing this gush-worthy update about Norah’s endearing moment of reading to him. Despite her surprisingly sneaky efforts to hurt him when no one is looking, Norah truly enjoys taking care of her baby brother and does so in a motherly way that makes us proud.

Little happenings like this are a regular part of our lives, and ample reason for me to emphatically support the sibling scene. And while that scene may be made up of three or four or more for other families, for us, it takes two to make a thing go right.

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XO.S.

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