Quinn has started biting Saoirse. I know it’s wrong, and I make sure she knows it’s wrong (as much as you can with a someone who’s only been on the planet a year and a half) but it usually happens when Saoirse has tried to take a toy away from her, or bullies her once again, and quite honestly, I kind of can’t blame Quinn. Between you and me, part of me is like, good for you kid, for sticking up for yourself. But then I see Saoirse’s genuine surprise, and the tears of pain in her eyes, and the itty-bitty marks in her arm (or shoulder, or thigh–it’s happened three times so far) that look like she got in the way of a baby shark, and then I feel awful.
Sisters. They steal each other’s toys. They tattle on each other. They scream in frustration and hip-check each other with such force that I’m thinking ice hockey may be in their future. They shove each other out of the way for attention from a parent, and weep in despair if what they’re given–hugs, cookie halves, sips of chocolate milk–aren’t exactly even.
But then you wait 30 seconds, and: They’re hugging. Saoirse is kissing Quinn on the cheek, and Quinn is rubbing Saoirse’s arm and trying to stare into her face. They’re following each other around the house, from room to room. They’re giggling. They’re dancing around in a circle, holding hands, singing “Ring Around the Rosie” (with SK singing clearly, and Quinn doing her best: “Ass-es, ass-es…dohn!”). If Quinn’s in stroller, Saoirse will race her until they fall into laughter. They have entire conversations from their car seats, where I’m clearly just a cheaply hired chaperone.
They are becoming their own unit, and it’s the absolute coolest relationship ever. I think about me and my own brother–who’s still my “little” bro, even though the kid’s now 32. I remember that I would pick on him all I wanted, but I’d better be the only one ever giving him a hard time. I used to get angry with him for ripping the heads off of my Barbie dolls, until I realized that Barbie dolls were kind of ridiculous and he was onto something. He was my favorite friend.
Last night, Saoirse was “reading” a book on her dad’s iPad, which means that it was really a Thomas and Friends app, which is definitely the strangest sentence to type (our kids don’t have video games, nor do they have a lot of access to our smartphones and stuff–so how is it that my child can completely figure out how to type in the password to her father’s iPad, bring up the app, and completely navigate it with no help from us? Is there some sort of technology chip with which kids are born, or is it like dolphins–you know, they’re way, way more intelligent and cunning than we give them credit for? The possible answer to that is terrifying to this parent who has no clue what she’s doing…).
Quinn climbed up on the couch beside her big sister, draped herself over Saoirse’s legs, and half-heartedly followed along with the story. She’d play with a blanket, pet her sister’s leg, push a couple of buttons on the screen, but she was always touching her sister. Feet touching feet. Hands touching arm. Head resting on shoulder. They sat like that for twenty moments, while David and I just sat to the side and watched them like it was the most fascinating play we’d ever seen.
I thought about my brother Paul, and how he’d come visit whatever place I was living to see a concert, hang out in the city, go out with friends. How he’s SK’s godfather and probably David’s best friend, and still the only person left who’d go see Weezer with me if they ever came around. How he’ll probably never let me forget how I ratted on him for swearing at a video game when he was, like, seven, or how I’ll never quite get over him running over my favorite Pebbles cup with his tricycle, or the way neither of us ever went on a field trip or vacation without bringing back the other a little souvenir. I watched Saoirse and Quinn chasing each other around the coffee table, and thought about how only they will know how they wrestled around on the living room floor together, or had impromptu dance parties in their pajamas at bedtime, or developed a language that only the two of them could understand.
The other day Saoirse was talking again about missing Quinn as a baby. She didn’t want her to get bigger, she said. She liked her small. At first I thought that SK was just worried about Quinn trying to steal even more of her toys as she got bigger, but then she said, “Mom? Quinn is my sister? Will she be my sister when we’re teachers (that’s SK’s word for “grown-up”)? Will we always be sisters?” Then she ran out of the room to find Quinn.
I don’t think she has anything to worry about.