On Sunday morning, my husband and I were laying in bed, having a lie in. It was 8am and the room was warm, the bed was comfy, we had nice cups of coffee on the bedside tables, and all you could hear was the birds outside, the rumble of the heating turning on, and our two daughters screaming bloody murder at each other.

Me: *sighs* “I think the children may be battering each other”
Mr H: “Yes… But at least they’re finally occupying themselves…”
In the last few months, our children have started to fall out on very regular basis. Until this point, middle sprog had been young enough to accept everything that the eldest said as gospel, and would do and say whatever she was asked. She was like a teeny tiny employee of a very bossy ginger girl, and would answer every one of her boss’s requests with “Otay!”

However, in the last few months middle child has started to assert herself a little more, and has learnt that she can and will say no. In fact some days that’s all she says. She does not automatically share because she has been told to, she will not do her sister’s bidding, and in fact she is going to continuously annoy her eldest sister by wanting whatever she has in her hand. Eldest sprog is becoming less and less keen on her younger sister as a result. They aren’t too bad, only minor assaults on a daily basis at the moment, but I’m fairly confident that the next few years will see an increase in such activities.

It’s led me to thinking about what I’ve brought my children into the world to endure. We have three daughters and my husband has two sons from a previous relationship, so each of my girls have two full time sisters and two part time brothers. Along with being a sibling is a world of sharing, enduring, coping and accepting. Both my husband and I have three siblings each, so we know all too well about what this is like, and as they say: fore-warned is pre-armed, so I want my kids to know what they’re in for growing up with siblings.

As I said, I’m one of four. Here we are. We are such a photogenic family. I’m the one with the sexy wet-look ponytail and side fringe combo. Apparently none of us had eyes growing up either.

 

Whilst on many occasions I lamented the fact that I was a sibling, my life would be unrecognizable if I wasn’t.

I was three when my mum was first diagnosed. Everyone seemed quite happy about it, and seemed to expect me to share the same joy. In contrast, I couldn’t quite understand why I should be happy that my mother was carrying the growth and there was little i could do about it. Nonetheless, after about six months of being told of mum’s ‘condition’, my sister arrived and was immediately fairly popular amongst our friends and family. I couldn’t quite understand why, she was a tiny little baby piglet with a pudgy face who made far too much noise. And no-one was interested in me half as much anymore, thanks to that cute little ball of uselessness.

In her first few years, I attempted on several occasions to murder her.

As a one year old, Becca was crying in her highchair but no one could understand why. When Mum went off to the toilet, I realised what it was and tried to rectify the problem immediately. I was very pleased with myself and thought that my parents would be overjoyed that their four year old was so clever. Unfortunately, my parents weren’t quite so pleased that I was trying to feed my baby sister Calpol and removed the bottle from me immediately.

That same year, we were in a supermarket and that same attention stealing sister had also become the trolley-seat stealing sister. Not impressed that I was being forced to walk around the weekly shop, I took an opportunity when my mother wasn’t looking and clambered into the back of the trolley. For this I was told off, banned from ever standing near the trolley and reminded about the said incident for the next decade.

I may have missed out a tiny bit in the middle, where the trolley flipped over and Becca spent an evening in A&E with suspected concussion.

Somehow, despite this and several other manslaughter attempts, my sister lived and was soon joined by another sibling, a brother who had a big head and google eyes. I quite liked him however, and he managed to have a fairly uneventful and assault-free childhood. When I was twelve and my younger siblings were nine and seven, our parents then introduced our failed contraceptive surprise littlest brother Callum. It was then that my parents decided that their family was complete*.

*my mother forced my father to be sterilised or else they were moving into separate rooms.

If my parents hadn’t been quite so fertile, there are several things in my life that would be very, very different.

Without my sister, there would have been no-one to play the most amazing pranks on. From the time I convinced her it was a weekday and she needed to go to school, to the time I told her that my parents were putting her up for adoption because she was too naughty, to the time I told her that the mole on her chest was alive, she provided me with hours of entertainment. The best was when I was eleven and convinced her that she had leprosy, and not heat rash. Oh how she freaked out! When my Dad joined in and told her that she would have to go into isolation for a month, that was just an added unexpected little bonus. The greatest thing is: when its your sibling, it’s not bullying! Its just ‘sibling rivalry’ and when they dare to tell on you, you just shout an equal amount of accusations and soon your Mum is all “Oh will you two just get along?!”. Totally got away with it.

Without my brother Christopher, my sister and I would have had no-one to dress up. We loved making him our little doll, and as a placid, shy little boy: he was always more than happy to be put in little dresses, our clothes, my mum’s make-up, and sing Spice Girls songs in his tiny little high pitched voice. On that note, without siblings, you’d have no-one to have constant reminders of your fashion faux-pa’s and have photographic proof, like this.

Without my sister, there would have been no-one to share clothes with. Or totally match. Although that said, sharing clothes would have been far more fun if our parents didn’t buy us clothes like this.

 

 

Note to my eldest: If you don’t want to share clothes with your sister, just get a bit fat. Or have god-awful dress sense.

When I think about it, even now as a twenty seven year old woman and mother, my life would be very different without my younger sister in particular. She and I are so different: much like my two daughters. For my sarcastic, quite intellectual and a little bit snobby persona, my sister is fun-loving, ever popular and goofy. She is surrounded by friends, I have a small but loyal handful. She has travelled, socialised and explored the world whereas I had a business at nineteen, a mortgage at twenty, and three children by twenty seven. We are polar opposites. But yet it somehow works. We argue like cat and dog in the morning and are friends again by afternoon. I agree with very little that she says: she has learnt to accept that I am always right. She has called me a ‘asshole-faced t**t’ one day (she’s never been good at insults) but I would still drop everything to help her.

 

 

As teenagers we came to blows on a daily basis. She would always stealing my hair mascara; she would tell on me for everything; and she BROKE MY SPICEWORLD CD (actually I still haven’t forgiven you for that).But yet when she was being bullied at school, I almost got suspended because I responded to the graffiti on the toilet wall about her (by graffiti-ing a threatening response to the bully. What can I say? I didn’t chose the thug life, the thug life chose me..).

Because I guess that’s what being a sibling is about. Its about having someone who you can shout abuse at but would head-butt anybody who does the same to them. Its about having someone to commit minor assault on but still let them creep into your bed to sleep the same night. It’s about having someone to share therapy with over the horrific haircuts and outfits that your mother coerced you into.

 


Jodie Hardwick

Jodie Hardwick

Jodie has her  own business (Smiley Happy Photography) and blogs as The Ridiculous Mrs H at https://theridiculousmrsh.wordpress.com.