The Age Gap.

My sister is six years older than me. This was an arguably convenient age gap for my working parents, but as far as my sister and I were concerned, it was redundant when it came to any form of fair and rewarding play. For the first six years of our relationship, in my sisters eyes, I was completely useless. For the following ten, I was mostly annoying and occasionally, on a good day, barely tolerable.

Growing up, she employed some strategies to deal with my vexatious behaviour. There was the time she asked me to say every swear word I’d ever heard so she could secretly tape me – she then played the tape to my Grandparents. Then there was the time she convinced me to walk in to one of my parents dinner parties, lift my shirt and shout “FLASHER”. That one went down well. And of course there were the hundreds of times she threatened to physically abuse me for doing a range of things from breathing to standing in her room.

I thoroughly deserved it. Using a scale of one to ten for annoying little sisters, I would rate myself a solid eleven. I knew exactly how to push her buttons. My list of offenses is long. I’m not sure which event would be classed as my best? Maybe it was the time I set her room on fire when she was in the middle of a chronic asthma attack, or perhaps it was the time I went on a date with her to the drive-in. I can still picture the mixture of horror and disgust on her face as I begged my mother to let me go with them.

As you can imagine, the real winner in all of this was my mother. She adjudicated every argument, shut down every fight and begged for the whining to stop. On my mothers luckiest of days we would both turn on her and unite as one.

When we united, we were unstoppable.

When I was fifteen my sister was given the task of driving me home from boarding school. For four hours we talked, laughed, took the complete mickey out of each other and then somehow, became friends. It’s entirely possible she may have let me have cigarettes and hot chips. We were Thelma and Louise, except I was wearing a maroon school uniform with fawn colored socks, matching knickers, and brown school shoes and she was driving a rusted out Kingswood with a really bad eighties perm.

When I was 16, she woke me up one morning with tears streaming down her face “I found him in bed with someone else”. I handled it badly, I had no idea what to say, I suddenly felt sick and my heart hurt. I couldn’t help her. I was too immature to be practical. So I sat outside her door with silent tears falling down my face as I listened to her cry. That’s what sisters do when they can’t do anything. They just stay by your side and wait for things to get better. Like labradors.

We’ve worked together, played sport with each other, got drunk together, giggled through each others weddings and to this day we continue to find ways to escape from my parents house and sneak off to the pub.

At my first child’s sixth birthday, I stood with my 4th child in my arms. I had squished four babies into the same time that my own mother had produced two. I had a plan, I figured having them close, would make them close. I wanted them to look across the school yard and see each other. I wanted them to be mates.  And they are, (most of the time), but this is only the beginning. A snippet in time, compared to what comes next.

You never stop being a sibling. It’s there forever. Those memories in the early years can take any shape, from friends to rivals to complete distance, but as adults we get to decide if we’re there because we have to be, or because we want to be. My children have to spend time together, they have no choice. One day they will. And I hope they feel the same way about each other as I feel about my sister.

Happy Birthday for tomorrow Smelly Shelly.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    Ahhhhh my sibling age gap (for myself) is 11 years for 5 of us top to bottom including twins. I’m number 2. I didn’t get along with twins (3 & 4) who are 3.5 yrs younger than me until we finally went to the same school when I was year 12 and they were year 9. Took that long. my youngest sis is 9 years younger than I and we get along very well.
    My two are 17 mths apart and are great friends – 99.5% of the time. Who knows what works “best”.

  2. Ahhhhh my sibling age gap (for myself) is 11 years for 5 of us top to bottom including twins. I’m number 2. I didn’t get along with twins (3 & 4) who are 3.5 yrs younger than me until we finally went to the same school when I was year 12 and they were year 9. Took that long. my youngest sis is 9 years younger than I and we get along very well.
    My two are 17 mths apart and are great friends – 99.5% of the time. Who knows what works “best”.

  3. I love reading of people who have great relationships with their siblings – I don’t and I am often sorry that I don’t.  Things have happened and I just don’t know if I can get past them – sad but true. I love that your children do all get on with each other (most of the time !) and hope that they take that into the future.
    Have a great day !
    Love,hugs and positive energy.
    Me

  4. My sister is almost 9 years younger than I am, but there is no one in the world who understands me  – the way I think and the way I look at the world – the way she does.  

  5. Ahhhh. Love a lovely sibs tale. I adore mine too. Your relationship with her sounds tops. xx

  6. aaah that was beautifully written. I wish I had a sister too..I am an only child and when I was little I always wished to have a sibling, like adorable sister or superhero brother 🙂 But my relationship with my cousins are also great. They are like my own sisters and brothers, so I am grateful at least I have them in my life.

  7. My sister is 8 years older than me. She broke my heart when she cut her long hair off when she was about 16. She dropped me on my head when I was a baby. She’s also provided a safe haven for me, and again for my kids and I, when we’ve needed it. She is an awesome cook, and regularly hosts the entire family for country dinners. She rocks.

  8. Oh my! My daughters are six years apart – I thought this could have been written by one of them. They are 25 and 19 and still wary of each other, but when they unite, heaven help the world! 

  9. What a nice piece expressing on siblings and sisterly love. Lovely

  10. What a beautiful tribute to your sister! Happy birthday to her!
    I, too was one of four — only my mom had us in the span of 14+ years! Number 3(me) and number 4(my sister) have over 7 years difference. But I was just dying for a younger sibling by the time she came along, so she never seemed of the annoying variety. But it sounds like the relationship you now have with your sister is just like mine. We’re best friends. I admire her and adore her, and I can think of nothing that I wouldn’t do for her, or she for me. I’m lucky. Very very lucky.Though the nature of our relationships is different, I’m just as close to my two brothers — I love them to death, and as a kid, no matter how much they tortured me (and oh, did they torture!) I followed them around like a puppy. My older brother was my role model well into my twenties. My middle brother and I were co-conspirators in everything well into our teens. He died many years back, and I can think of nothing that’s had a more profound effect on me — which, in a twisted way, makes me happy. Siblings are just amazing. Sounds lame to phrase it that way, but it’s the plain truth. If I had the ability, I, too, would squeeze 4 kids in (perhaps more!) just to give them what I had! Somehow I don’t think that will work out (infertility and losses will do that to you!) but I’m at least hoping (all fingers and toes crossed!) my daughter will get a younger sister within the next couple of weeks (due date is in 1 week!) And I very strongly hope the two of them will (eventually!) have the kind of relationship you and I have with our own sisters… 

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