A song by Martina McBride, called “Blessed,” has a line about waking up in the morning to the sound of her children laughing “down the hall through [her] bedroom door.” The first time I heard that line, I had just awakened that very morning to the sound of my own children. But the sound they were producing was not laughter. It was the considerably less lovely sound of fighting, whining, grumbling, and crying. I wasn’t feeling particularly “blessed” that day.
I don’t think they fight every day, but it certainly does seem like it. And when they’re fighting, my heart hurts. Because I want them to cherish each other and appreciate each other and be glad that they live in the same house. I try to tell them that it’s like having a play date available at all times. And it used to be like that, when they were younger and both liked to do pretty much the same things (beanie babies, Barbies, Polly Pockets, and Groovy Girls). But as they’ve grown older, it’s as if the three years that separate them have grown longer and deeper and wider with each passing year. Big Girl wants to read. And read, and read, and read. Little Girl wants to play. And play, and play, and play. Both good things, but they don’t mesh well.
So I worry and fret and fear that they’re going to keep growing apart until they really don’t like each other much at all. (I am a pessimist and a daydreamer, which are a bad combination.)
But today, there was a glimmer of hope. A bright, glaring light, really.
It started yesterday when Big Girl told Little Girl that she’d earn a prize if Little Girl could go the whole day without saying “none of your business.” (We’re just your average family, here, folks.) Little Girl succeeded, and all day today she’s been asking about her prize. When she’s going to get it, what it’s going to be, etcetera.
Finally, Big Girl said, “I’ll give it to you right after you practice your piano.” After Little Girl had sprinted out of the room to attack the piano, I turned to Big Girl and said, “What prize are you going to give her?”
With fear in her eyes, Big Girl answered, “I have no idea!”
I said, “Don’t you still have that huge package of Reese’s that your friend gave you for your birthday? Just give her one of those.”
You have to understand that Little Girl’s world revolves around candy. When it’s not revolving around ice cream. Or cake. Or potato chips. Good thing she’s got a supercharged metabolism and a mom who limits her intake, or she’d be Little Hippopotamus.
Big Girl thought that was a fantastic idea, and offered the candy as soon as Little Girl returned. Little Girl’s shining eyes dimmed, and her sweet round cheeks drooped. “Oh,” she said, and looked down at her toes.
Big Girl tried to sell the Reese’s again, and I joined in. We couldn’t imagine what the problem was. But Little Girl wasn’t buying it.
I asked, “What prize were you hoping for?”
Her eyes still downcast, Little Girl said, “Playing Barbies.”
I said (with a tear-choked voice), “You want time with your sister for your prize?”
Big Girl was stunned.
I was so stunned, I had to confirm. “More than candy?”
Big Girl and I stared at each other, and Little Girl added, “Even more than ice cream.”
Blessed, people. That’s what I am.