Tag Archives: Friendship

It’s a Sibling Thing

My Mom is a true pacifist. She craves peace: genuine, co-operative, Kumbaya, why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along peace. She finds the debating and discussion our family dabbles in unsettling. She prefers to play for fun, and not to win. She is quick to point out the dark side of competitiveness and ambition. And she has ZERO TOLERANCE for violence.

My Sisters and I

sistersAs the (much older) sister, this meant my fights with my sisters were semantic, never physical and rarely even verbal. Just a simmering annoyance and sly pokes at one another. At 7 and 10 years younger, they were always the babies compared to me. I couldn’t get away with much, without coming across as the bully. So, I teased and tormented one and babied the other.

My Mom’s strict censure on all physical conflict had an unintended side effect for the youngest two. In the space between the back of the couch and the living room wall, my sisters found a way to battle for dominance anyway.

Silent fights.

Not a word. Not a sound. Just an all out brawl in absolute quiet. Until one would burst into giggles, at the ridiculousness of it all, and the other would stomp away angrier than ever.

Now we’re all grown up. And though we were told repeatedly, “you do not have to be friends, but you do have to treat each other with respect,” I not only respect, but consider both to be friends. The kind of friends that you don’t have to keep up with regularly, but can still pick up and hang out with when life allows. The kind of friends who can disagree fundamentally, but still laugh and wax nostalgic and know that it doesn’t really change anything important. The kind of friends who actually have a lot in common, and not just our back story or complexions, but our taste in books and sense of humour.

My own kids

I want that for my kids: a true, meaningful friendship. And not someday. I want it right now. I want to be the Mom who says, “they are so close, they love spending time together and they get along so well.”

But they don’t.

Sure, they spend a lot of time together. The two oldest share a room. The two youngest enjoy the same toys and shows. They play together and enjoy each other. But never for very long… inevitably fighting ensues.

There is nothing semantic about the conflicts in our house. When B is upset she will systematically remove all of her brother’s toys from his room and hide them in her own room. S is much more straightforward (being both a boy and 2); he screams at the top of his lungs and charges (watch the teeth). I’m not sure which one is more problematic.

The big girls are even worse. They are ones who really worry me. And frustrate me. And make me say things like, “I don’t want to hear it” and “work it out” on a regular basis.

The phrase, “she can outpester any pest” comes to mind when C decides she wants something from her long-suffering roommate. While C is prone to emotional outbursts, we’ve been around long enough to realize that L is often the one poking the bear, then sitting back with a contented smirk while little sister gets herself in trouble. There is no issue too small, no provocation too absurd, no slight too obviously imagined to escape their notice.

They are both kind girls with tender hearts. They are helpful and gracious. They are generous and considerate.

To everyone else.

Is this normal?

I’m told it is. I hope it is. For some reason we are our worst selves to our siblings. Because we can. Because they’re there. Because they’re ALWAYS right there in our space and into our stuff and generally making us crazy.

I find myself saying it a lot these days: “You don’t have to like each other, but you DO have to treat each other with respect.”

This sibling rivalry must have been hard on my peace-loving Mom. I know I long for the days when they will finally cut each other some slack. They would never dream of treating anyone else the way they do each other.

They are each other’s worst enemy. But, even though they may not admit it, they are each other’s best friend too.

So here’s me, feeling a little bad for the way I treated my sister. Sorry Esther Pester.

Getting Stuck on The Road Less Travelled

roadI started this post over a week ago, shortly after The Embarrassing Incident (or EI, as it shall be known henceforth). I turned this tale inside and out, carefully rearranging the details to spin the story and cast myself as the hero. Or at the very least, the protagonist.

Who doesn’t want to be the power player in their own story? Except some days it doesn’t work like that. Some days you find yourself stranded in the snowy armpit of Where-The-Hell-Am-I, with no one to blame but yourself.

Or so I’ve heard.

This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve become somewhat of an expert at the whole lock-your-keys-in-the-car/run-out-of-gas/get-hopelessly-lost/breakdown/vehicle-catches-on-fire (twice!)/stuck-in-the-snow/mud/ditch phenomenon. I probably shouldn’t be allowed out unsupervised.

On the day of The EI, I had undertaken a solo road trip to meet up with one of my oldest, dearest friends. We had decided to meet up in the mountains halfway between our two cities. What better way to catch up than a brisk winter hike?

Long story short: iMaps, unmaintained logging road, panic, snow, ice, nowhere to turn around, more panic, “All Season” tires, flaky city driver (me), deeper snow… even my friend’s 4-wheel-drive SUV was having trouble – my little red car didn’t stand a chance. Shannon seemed unphased and shrugged knowingly. She’s been around long enough to be completely unsurprised by my misadventures. Not exactly the years-in-the-making, once-in-a-blue-moon reunion I had pictured.

But here’s me, solidly stuck in the middle of nowhere. Nothing we did helped. Not the ice scrapers, digging, car mats, wheel turning, feats of car-pushing strength… Stuck.

I haven’t prayed so urgently in a long time. Before each new attempt… “Please Lord, rescue me. Don’t let this day be ruined. Save me from the tow bill and the humiliation and having to call Glen with yet another guess-what-I-did-now story…”

After an hour, we gave up. We began making our way back down the mountain (WITHOUT the little red car). There goes the day.

Until salvation came bombing up the road wearing coveralls astride two large, noisy ATVs. In less than 10 minutes, these hearty locals had me out of the rut and on my way back down the mountain. Like it was nothing.

Once again, I was rescued. I always am. Somehow God provides. And people step up – kinder and more helpful than I expect. It shouldn’t surprise me so much each time.

I much prefer being the rescu-er, than the rescu-ed. “Here I come to save the day!” tastes so much better than “Help!” And that’s a problem.

It’s good to give, no doubt, but it’s important to receive also. Either side without the other is unhealthy. Without a balance we aren’t truly participating… in family. In community. In church. In humanity.

A facade of independence and competence and keeping-it-all-together-all-the-time keeps people at arm’s length. My friendship with Shannon has survived (and flourished) over two decades, not because of proximity or circumstance or chemistry, but for all the times we’ve waded into the deep to rescue each other.

All my intimate relationships have grown in the messy, needy, bumpy parts of life. As we reach out to rescue or be rescued, we may not get a quick fix or any kind of solution at all. Sometimes our rescue comes in the form of a safe person to talk to. Or tell us when we’re wrong. Or take the kids during a crisis. Or cry with and for each other. Or spend a precious kid-free day driving for hours and pushing a stupid red car out of the stupid snow.

So here’s me, grateful to the Cameron family for rescuing me, to Shannon for grown up conversation, to Glen for going to the DoodleBops concert so I could have the day… and especially to all of you who keep rescuing this damsel in distress. I hope I can return the favour from time to time.


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