One of the best gifts that my parents gave me was sisters. One of life’s great sadnesses is when you realize that your siblings are not part of your daily routine anymore. Sometimes you learn things about them that you probably should have known long before. These transitions sneak up on you. One family turns into many, people move, logistics get tricky.

My kids share a bunkbed right now. For them, their sibling, is a giant part of their world. Their time apart is measured in minutes and hours. This is all temporary. When they’re at their best, they talk about building houses next door to each other when they are big people so they can check on each other. At other times their interactions foreshadow needed time apart. They are two different people preparing to inhabit different worlds.

A lot of my students have siblings and many are even twins. It has always surprised me how much tension and negativity is expressed between them. Some claim to hate. Many claim to hate. Sad. Odd. Maybe my memory is off, but I can’t remember a time when I would have said that I disliked my sisters.

There must have been minor annoyances here and there. They did watch the Sound of Music over and over. I attended more gymnastic meets than I would have chosen on my own. These are all minor, and not even infractions. I’m sure I was much worse, but can’t remember really. I have always loved my sisters, even liked them. There is some guilt, I suppose, in not knowing more about them, or being more for them. This is the kind of “not enoughness” that is possible to bring with you everywhere you go.

Watching so much sibling hate at school has made me wonder if one purpose of siblings is to prepare people for their future. What I mean is that sometimes sibling relationships might be strained or difficult because that’s how personalities and emotions need to be worked on. Family as boot camp. I don’t know. Speculation. A way to spin things positive.

I love having siblings, and miss when our daily routines were intertwined. Thinking about this, and watching my own kids, makes me want to build my sisters houses next to mine so I can go over, like my son says about his sister, “just in case we need each other.”

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