A few weeks ago we underwent the annual fall tradition of taking family pictures. Family pictures with young children can be a lot like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. So rather than focus on the sweat-inducing stress one experiences when they’ve invested hundreds of dollars into taking pictures of temperamental wolverines, I’m going in a different direction and talking about AJR and Olivia’s photogenic little love sesh.
I present you with Exhibit A:
Did your heart melt? Mine totally did into a puddle of parental relief that we got some good pictures where AJR isn’t putting her in a choke-hold when asked to put his arm around his sister. Their sibling canoodling carried on for a solid five minutes of adorability that had me standing mouth agape wondering what brought this on. Sure, I had upped the ante by offering a push- up instead of the standard lollipop if the kids behaved properly, but I hadn’t expected this. Mid-photograph, our photographer paused and said with a smile “They are so cute! They seem so close!”
I literally laughed out loud and did my best Dr. Evil “riiiiighhhttt” because in my mind, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. While they are close in age, they are not necessarily close in terms of their relationship. A picture can speak a thousand words but it doesn’t mean that a lot of them aren’t total BS.
Backing up a bit, it’s not like they dislike one another. Well, that’s not entirely true depending on the day and transgression. But it’s just that they’re so opposite. Perhaps its the gender thing. He’s a boy and she’s a girl and while I know we live in a society where we can’t/shouldn’t gender norm, I can’t help but notice that there are differences between boys and girls that are hard to deny. Olivia grew up exposed to her brother’s trucks, trains, and typical “boy toys”. There are videos of her zooming cars on AJR’s ultimate garage while he was away at school. Emphasis on him not being there, because like Dale in Step Brothers, you don’t touch AJR’s version of his “drum set”. However, once she got a little older and played at other friends’ houses she saw a world of baby dolls and dress-up that spoke to her love of pretend play. Even at three, her imagination has begun to show so brightly and she loves nothing more than to engaged in setting up parties and picnics and discipline her badly behaved baby dolls.
AJR’s jam is not pretend play. He goes along with his sister from time to time depending on the game, but he quickly loses interest and I don’t know whether it’s because he doesn’t like a three-year old plot or just finds that this is too frivolous for his liking. He likes order and structure. LEGOs with “constructions” only please. Sports with a clear winner and loser. Board games with an end in sight and again, a clear winner or loser. He will sit at the table with a workbook from the dollar store rather than “play babies” with his sister.
They have a lot of factors working against them – different interests, different personalities, and an age gap. I see friends with same gendered siblings and admittedly, I’m green with social media envy when I see pictures of an apparently harmonious sibling relationship. I love having the “set” (i.e. both the boy and the girl) but as my mind is wont to do, I wonder. I wonder about their closeness as they grow older – will they confide in one another? Will they be there for each other when it really matters? Or are they destined to live separate lives only seeing each other on holidays that we guilt them into spending with us in our old age? As Joe said, my biggest problem in life is that I worry too much, which I sort of agree with but it’s so engrained in my personality that who would I be without all of my worries??
While I’m sure there was a great deal of hamming it up for the camera, I do think that the love and affection they have for each other is genuine. Each morning before school AJR will ask Olivia if she wants to see him that day because his class will walk past hers a few times per day on the way to various specials. She always answers yes so enthusiastically and at her pick-up, tell me how many times she saw her brother. They make each other laugh in a way no one else can over silly nonsensical things that I’m sure aren’t even in English. Sometimes I need AJR to step in and interpret for his sister because I have no clue what she’s trying to tell me and only he can understand her. I see Olivia make small acquiesces for her brother, even if comes with a reluctant sigh of “Fine, An’knee.” These moments aren’t frequent, I still have to literally beg them to play together when I’m trying to find time to make dinner or go to the bathroom. But they happen in these hopeful glimmers that makes me realize that they do have a relationship, even if it’s not the one I envisioned for them at this age. Or one that lets me prepare a decent microwaved meal for them in peace.