When you’re growing up with siblings, everything is a competition. Who can brush their teeth the fastest, who can jump off the couch the furthest, and who can get their goldfish from the county fair to stay alive the longest. There’s never a moment in the day where brothers and sisters aren’t trying to battle one another. Those moments in Harris Teeter when you see two brothers trying to push the same grocery cart or the sisters wrestling after a basketball game wrong in the backyard. Everything is a rapid paced race to the finish line. You’re stuck with these people, and you don’t quite know why. So you might as well be able to run to the mailbox faster than them.
Then, we grow up.
We slowly stop playing hockey with plastic golf clubs in mawmaw’s living room and partaking in a nightly brawl of wrestle-off-the-bed where the little sister always loses and someone ends up in tears. Now we sit at the kitchen table and help that little sister with her multiplication tables and the middle child sits through a pretend classroom lesson that she is teaching to her invisible students. Slowly, we’re becoming friends. We listen to each other’s favorite music and watch the same TV shows on Disney Channel. Sometimes you might even catch a big brother cheering for his sibling when their Pinewood Derby race car wins. We begin to tolerate one another, not quite ready to profess our love, just yet.
Then, we grow up.
There’s a sense of beauty in these sibling relationships now that we’re of age. You’re born into a family, with no ability to pick or choose who you’re stuck with. A little girl with red cheeks is now your sister, and she’s got a birthmark on her arm that you and your brother can’t stop worrying about. Suddenly the most important thing on your mind isn’t what toy from the kids corner granddad will buy you from Cracker Barrel after your pancake lunch, but instead making sure that little baby is fine. That’s your sister now, you better watch out for her. You grow up with them. Sure, you bicker and you argue, but one day it’ll all make sense. The sister finishes a cross country race in tears, and the brother wants nothing more to be there for her at the finish line. A boy scores a goal in his soccer match and when the game is over he’s got a missed call from his older brother in college. Good grades are met with high fives instead of punches to the stomach. Musical performances are met with admiration and flowers instead of giggles and ridicule. We appreciate the bond that we have, and we never want to let that go. We love before we fight. We hug before we punch. We laugh together, we cry together, and we share our joys together.
Boy, am I lucky.