Friday, November 19, 2010

Breakfast Sisters

My little sister is five. I was lucky that my Dad found someone great and got remarried and now I have a sister, something I have always wanted. I’ve known her since she was a day old and ever since, she has been my shadow.

When she was a year, I started to babysit her. I got blocks and Leggos and stuffed animals for her and she loved them all. Not having any children of my own, I have enjoyed watching her grow.

Her little personality started to develop early but really started to shine around the age of two. She was already starting to exhibit that strong independent streak that runs through our family but now that she is older, I can see how much tougher she is, than I was at her age. She knows what she wants and knows how to make things happen. She doesn’t throw tantrums or fits but looks at me with her very serious little face and basically gives me a speech on why things should be her way. I imagine she will probably be a lawyer one day, complete with briefcase and sensible shoes.

She is also extremely self conscious about how other people see her. She is a beautiful thing. Lovely doe brown eyes and sandy hair but she doesn’t like to stand out. When I took her to the local pool, she wanted to know why all the other children had water wings instead of the antiquated floatie that she had to wear. I told her that she would have to ask her Mom and she shrugged her shoulders and accepted it.

The next time, she was determined to swim without it. I must say, I did notice a lot of little kids diving in the water and swimming like fish. Her mom and Rog were with us, and there were several life guards at the pool so we watched her practice trying to stay afloat. She would get mad if I tried to help her and even when she got a mouthful of water, she waved away any help. Her independence is so unnerving that I tend to be a bit strict with her. When it’s just the two of us, it’s like fort Knox. I don’t want to be responsible for anything happening and so I am often treated to repeated eye rolling from her when I remind her that she has to hold my hand when we walk near the road. Still, she loves coming to my house. It’s filled with all kinds of cool things and she loves our dog Bodie and loves playing hide and seek in all the rooms and best of all, loves to bounce on our huge bed with all the pillows.

Often, when her mom comes to pick her up she will get angry and say, “Come back later, Mom!” She will sulk and complain about all the things we didn’t get to do. Then the negotiations take place, and usually a little bit of ice cream will do the trick.

One of her favorite things to do, aside from dressing like a princess, is to eat breakfast with me. I rarely see her in the morning, so when I do, it’s a treat. We fix all the things she likes and we sit at the kitchen table, her legs swinging wildly underneath. She eats her English muffin with peanut butter and jam and talks about all the things we are going to do when she is older.

She told me that when she is twenty, she is going to buy a house next to mine so we will be neighbors. That melts my heart and I hope that she won’t resent the fact that we will all be old when she is twenty. That’s the downside of having older parents but the upside, is more attention. It does make me feel melancholy at times though, to think that Dad might not be around when she gets married and has children of her own, but you never know.

One day while eating breakfast, she looked at me and said “We are breakfast sisters.”

I said, “That sounds like a restaurant.”

“Yeah,” she said. “We could sell breakfast stuff.”

“Like pancakes and waffles,” I said.

“Yeah, and English muffins with peanut butter and jam.”

She smiled at this thought and said, “Yes, when I grow up, we can have a restaurant called Breakfast Sisters.”

What a lovely thought. I’ll still be in my fifties then, so who knows? I laughed and said, “Breakfast Sisters, it is. We will make a fortune.”

“Yeah and everyone will want to come in there and eat breakfast with their sisters.”

“Yes, they will.” I said.

So, maybe I don’t have all the answers, I might not know the ABC’s of parenting or being the best sister, but I do know one thing. Never crush their dreams, let them think they can do anything and also, enjoy those moments while you can. They are precious, mercurial things and I am so happy that my little Sister and I can have breakfast together, and talk about restaurants, and ‘My Pretty Ponies’ and ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ and being neighbors and all the good things in the world now, and all the good things yet to come.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spring in Virginia

The sun is blazing through the sky today. Spring in Virginia doesn’t creep slowly, quietly changing the landscape. It’s more of a full scale riot. The trees have suddenly transformed from that pale fresh color, like the underbelly of a frog, to a deeper green and the flowers are exploding out of the ground.

I missed a month of the spring because I was quite sick. When I started to come back to the land of the living, I noticed how bright everything was. Almost like a mirage, the hazy pollen streaked sky, the impossibly red azaleas and the birds. Several are nesting in the small piece of woods behind our townhouse and they’ve been very happy about it, singing like mad and pulling bits of moss from the side of the house. By six in the morning there is a chorus that lasts until the sun has set and the last hint of pink has faded and the bats have started to take their place, ducking and diving for insects.

I felt as if I’d come back from the dead in a way. I started to notice these little miracles around me and felt grateful that I had the opportunity to witness it all for another day.

I noticed the blue of the sky especially. Washed clean, the color of a robin’s egg, yet it hasn’t rained in days. There were no clouds and I think that if there was such a thing as a heaven, it would be that color.

Saturday the wind blew in an odd little cold front. It went from almost ninety degrees to seventy in a matter of hours. Rog was away on a hike with a friend so I decided to walk around the lake near our house. The water was choppy and brown and I saw a family of geese with little mustard colored goslings. The parents hissed at me and the babies tumbled across the lawn and slid into the water. I was wearing my explorer’s hat that I’d worn in Africa and I pulled the drawstring close to keep the wind from tearing it off my head and sending into the lake. I watched the trees sway; they cast peculiar shadows on the lawn. They made a sound like sighing and then later when the wind picked up, like roaring. It had the effect of blowing the thoughts out of my head as well which was very welcome.

I spent almost two hours studying the water, the wind and the sky, the remaining clouds scudding farther away until they were out of sight. I saw Mallard ducks preening, quacking and fussing on a little rock near the shore. As I walked around the lake I reached a wooded area that was filled with wild roses, their tangled blossoms wrapped around the base of a tree. The cloying scent filled the woods and the wind whipped the blossoms, scattering petals like rain. I was showered and walked on until the path ended.