Friday, May 29, 2009
The strangest thing is happening at my house.
My kids are playing together.
I am an only child. I have no point of reference for siblings. Having more than one kid has been like orchestrating a science experiment without a control group. Each child's birth has deepened the mystery to me.
As an only, I spent my whole childhood playing with a huge cast of imaginary friends and fantasizing about having brothers and sisters. I even pretended to be my own twin for awhile.
I grew up in a sibling free wasteland, a place where there was never anyone to understand how stupid, unfair, or ridiculous my parents were being, a place where I opened my Christmas presents alone while the folks watched, a place where a bunk bed was unnecessary even though I wanted one.
When my children multiplied I expected them to appreciate how lucky they were to be born into a herd, a gaggle, a pod, of other children.
I thought they would spend their days together planning escapades, building forts, and fighting pirates in Neverland.
What a bunch of BS.
Naturally, as most people that have brothers and sisters and who do not think the Parent trap was a true story know, the last thing you want to do is hang out with your siblings.
They not only don't spend time commiserating about their parents, they use them to plot against each other. They fight over
They agree that they do not like each other.
Being the kind of parent I am, I'm constantly enouraging them to do something together. I keep an album (a very small one) of the few times they have hugged, kissed, or sat near each other willingly.
But something has begun to happen this summer. Summer, the time I dreaded all year because it meant they would be stuck in the same house, same car, same yard for days on end...summer when my job as referee would kick over to full time...they are beginning to see one another as people they might want to be around.
The teenager has actually talked to Liam and Isabel, she has let them come into her room, she has tickled them and chased them and admitted once or twice that she thinks they might someday become human.
She has picked up the baby without being asked and hugged him and made him giggle.
I am beginning to think she might be human too.
But it is the middle children that have really come around and left me wondering if I'm hallucinating.
They have willingly turned off the TV and played together for days...yes days... on end. They have played Spiderman, and Pet Store, and Star Wars, and Princess and race cars, and dollies.
Not only are they playing together cooperatively but they are shifting back and forth across gender preferences and finding ways to appreciate each other's interests.
Wisely I have sat back and let it happen. I have sat on my hands to keep from applauding. I have taken only a few pictures, casually, so I don't alert them to the miracle that is happening.
It is something to see after years of expecting, then hoping, and then finally convincing myself that I had the wrong idea.Of admitting sadly that siblings were punching bags not playmates.
It turns out all I had to do was be patient.
Do I think this will last?...well...I am an only child. I grew up believing in fantasy. There is part of me that does think that they might stay this way...that soon they will begin to snuggle up in bed and share secrets and plan the next days adventure...that they might actually come to love each other.
Hey what are you laughing at?
Better clap your hands quick buddy, before a fairy dies.