The Saturday post: Siblings singing sweetly

The Saturday post: Siblings singing sweetly

It’s high time I get back to sharing something or another on Saturdays, be it a movie review, inspirational—or informative or humorous or must-see—video, or merry music-making of some sort.

I’ve chosen to restart Saturday posts with the latter, a short spot of siblings sharing their souls through song. It’s sweet and simple and something all our souls…

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His brother's keeper

“Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply." ~Jane Austen

 

Every once in a while, Bubby and Mac get to have "sleepovers" together. They had one last week, with Bubby hosting Mac in his bed for the night.

Being a gracious host and all, Bubby read the bedtime story to his little brother...

brothers 

And being a thoughtful...

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Bagpipes for a brother-in-law

Jim got the phone call yesterday morning that his brother-in-law had passed away in his sleep Monday night. Richard had battled health issues for a very long time, so the news wasn't surprising. It was, though, heartbreaking.

Jim and I last saw Richard and Sue, Jim's oldest sister, in November. We're deeply grateful for that...

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Wherein I share a sibling sandwich and grandchildren that aren't mine

I didn't get to spend time with my grandsons or their parents on Thanksgiving. The miles are just too difficult (and expensive) for either of us to traverse at this time.

Making up a smidgen for not getting to see the parts of my heart that live in the desert was getting to share a warm and cozy (and filling) day at my place with many of my mountain-based family members, immediate and extended. That included two of my six siblings — my oldest (Jeff) and my youngest (Susan).

Forget the turkey and taters, this was the sibling sandwich of the day:

siblings on Thanksgiving 

I don't believe we have ever...

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Two boys, one bedroom

Ever since Mac was born, he's had his own bedroom. Which meant Bubby had his own bedroom, too.

Mac did just fine in his very own room for the past nearly two years. He enjoyed hanging out alone there...

toddler rocker 

He endured breathing treatments there when sick...

toddler breathing treatment

He moved into his big boy bed there...

big boy bed 

Mac loved being in his very own room.

Until the past few weeks.

Mac recently started showing up in Mommy's bed some mornings. He'd drag his sheets with him, and when Megan told him he needed to sleep in his own bed, he'd teasingly show Megan his sheets and say, "I seep my bed. Mommy bed."

toddler in bed

Other mornings Megan would find Mac had crawled into Bubby's bed in the night, where big brother Bubby had scootched over to give his little brother a safe spot to sleep, and the two made it through the night together.

Mac is no longer happy to sleep by himself in his own room.

After trying a variety of measures to make Mac happy in his room, all with no success, Megan proposed to Bubby a solution for Mac's bed-hopping. Megan — gingerly, nonchalantly — asked Bubby how he'd like to have Mac move into his bedroom with him, so the two brothers could sleep in the same bedroom together rather than all alone in their own rooms.

Bubby's response? "Oh, Mom!" he exclaimed. "I've been dreaming about doing that for so long!"

In the blink of an eye, Mac's furniture was moved into Bubby's room. My two grandsons now happily share one bedroom. Mac's not hopped into anyone else's bed since.

Oh, how very different the situation when their mother was a child. Megan shared a bedroom with her younger sister, Andrea, for years. "Happily" is definitely not one of the words one might have used to describe the arrangement.

Megan and Andrea shared a room from the moment little Andie was born. In fact, Megan and Andrea and Brianna all shared a bedroom when Andrea was first born. We lived in a two-bedroom townhome — the townhome where, through a bizarre twist of fate, Brianna now lives on her own. Two bedrooms plus three kids and a mom and a dad, too, meant the three kids shared a bedroom. It was a large bedroom, the master suite of the home, actually. My three little girls had good times in their shared room.

The good times didn't last once we moved to a larger home, one where Brianna, the oldest, got her own room, and Megan and Andrea had to share a room. Oh. My. Goodness. Those two were at each other non-stop. Maybe it's because there's only 19 months between the two. Maybe it's because I failed miserably at teaching them to show love and respect for their sister... and their sister's belongings. Whatever the reason, two girls in one bedroom did. not. work.

At one point, the fighting over which side of the room belonged to whom became so heated that one of the girls — I can't recall which — applied masking tape directly down the center of the room. The idea was to designate permissable boundaries for each. The idea didn't work. For starters, the door to the bedroom was on one side of the room, allowing the owner of the "other" side to trespass as she pleased. Who "owned" the closet was another glitch in the plan.

By the time Megan and Andrea were in junior high, the only solution was to remodel our house so there were three bedrooms for the girls. Three girls, three bedrooms, one each. Yes, a tad extreme, but the bitching battling had gotten so bad that it was either that or end up with one of the girls killing the other.

If you've lived with teen girls, you know that's no exaggeration. If you've been a teen girl — with a teen sister, no less — you're likely vigorously nodding your head in agreement.

I was once a teen girl. With a teen sister, and several younger ones, too. I shared a bedroom with that teen sister. She was older — and tougher — than me, so she ruled the room. It was not fun. At all. It was so unfun, in fact, that we had many knock-down, drag-out, pile on top of one another on the double bed we shared incidents, all featuring hair-pulling and doing our best to pull out each other's oh-so-fashionable hoop earrings, too — preferably with a chunk of earlobe attached.

Not fun. I tired of my sister smoking cigarettes and putting them out under the edge of the rug; she tired of my hamster that continually escaped the Habitrail cage, ending up under the covers on her side of the bed. What saved us from killing one another? She left home to get married.

I'm pretty sure neither Bubby or Mac will need to settle for an ill-fated marriage in order to escape their shared bedroom. I'm also pretty sure they won't emulate the knock-down, drag-out fights my sister and I had or the tape-down-the-middle-of-the-room arrangements their mother had with their aunt. And I feel confident about saying that the two boys will never, ever consider killing one another while residing in the same bedroom.

No, I imagine the only killing going on in that one bedroom shared by those two boys will be the killer good time those kids will be having. Maybe it's the difference between boys and girls, between brothers and sisters.

All I can say about that, though, is where's the justice? I keep waiting for the payback Megan is supposed to suffer through as a parent, the fabled consequences for the trials and tribulations she put her mother through. Seems she'll get by scot-free, at least in terms of payback for her shared-bedroom years.

But then again... Megan and Preston are considering having more children eventually. I'm rooting for a set of twin girls — twin girls who have to share a bedroom.

Today's question:

What was your bedroom situation when you were growing up?

Brotherly love

In my family, there's not much of a tradition of close, loving, secret-sharing relationships between the female siblings. I read in books, see in movies, even observe in some of my friends and their sisters the ideal sisterly state. In the real world, though, in my real world that's flush with far more females than males, it just hasn't been. Not for those sisters who came before me nor for those who've come after.

My mom and her two sisters clearly love one another, but I'd venture to say calling each other best friends would be pushing it. My sisters and I? Well, we did—and do—love one another, but in a group of five females, you can imagine the competitions, the cat fights. Or maybe you can't, if you're one of the fortunate ones who indeed calls your sister your best friend.

Even my own daughters—whom I have no doubt whatsoever love and cherish one other dearly—aren't now and never have been a tight-knit trio. Nor is there even an exclusive duo among the three, leaving a third wheel to roll on her own. (Which, truth be told, I accept, for having one child continually left out and heartbroken would be an even more difficult situation than the overall arms length at which they all seem to keep one another.)

It saddens me that somehow, somewhere, the sisters-as-best-friends gene seems to have skipped generation after generation after generation in my family. I envy those sisters for whom the sappy adages cross-stitched on pillows and emblazoned across coffee mugs ring true. I wanted that. I wanted that for my daughters.

When it comes to my grandsons, though, they do have that. And what a heartwarming delight it is to see. Bubby and Mac are unabashedly best buds, best friends who love and cherish, adore and idolize one another. Countless times during their visit I witnessed one reaching out to the other just to cuddle or kiss, share a toy or a moment. Sometimes I'd see one little hand pat a shoulder, an arm, a cheek as if they simply needed assurance their best buddy was still there.

Just as many times, I watched one hop on the other as though a bell audible to only them had been rung, signaling the start of a wrestling match. They'd giggle and roll and squeal in delight. Then just as quickly, the match would be over and they'd move on to another activity, together or solo, secure in knowing their brother, their best friend, was nearby if the urge to wrestle and wrangle struck once again.

 

Of course Bubby and Mac argue, compete for attention, clamor for the very same toys and don't hold back physically or vocally in challenging one another for what they feel is rightfully theirs. But once the victor is declared—by virtue of who's most determined to get their way or by virtue of Mommy or another adult breaking up the bickering—they're right back to lovin' on one another. No grudges, no resentment.

I'm not sure how it happened. I don't know whether Megan subconsciously—or consciously—did something absolutely perfectly right in creating the connection between the boys, instilled something that eluded me when raising my girls, or if it's just luck of the draw and she came up with the winning and perfectly matched pair.

Whatever the reason, whatever the cause, I'd say that Bubby and Mac are the true winners. I hope their winning streak continues. They'll always be brothers, of course. I'm crossing my fingers and saying my prayers that they'll always—and in all ways—be best friends, as well.

Today's question:

Which of your siblings did you consider your best friend as children?

To each his own

 

Saturday is Baby Mac's first birthday party. You know, the party I won't be going to. Well, yesterday I mailed the birthday gift from PawDad and me to our youngest grandson. Megan called while I was preparing the package for mailing, and I felt compelled to tell her that I was not including something for Bubby in the box.

I realized it was an issue we'd not yet addressed, the even-steven-if-one-gets-something-the-other-gets-something-too conversation, because Bubby had been the one and only child up until his little brother came along nearly a year ago.

"The package is only for Baby Mac," I said. "It's his birthday, not Bubby's, and I won't be including a small gift for Bubby just because Baby Mac gets something."

"That's fine, Mom," she assured me. "That's not how our family rolls."

I was glad to hear that, as that's not the way our family ever rolled, either, when my daughters—Megan included—were young. As is often the case when a young family and new parents (like Megan and Preston) figure out what traditions and practices they will and will not use from their childhood when raising their own kids, I didn't want to assume Megan would do as we did, not as Preston's family did.

I don't know that Preston's family followed the even-steven-amongst-siblings rule. I'm guessing they didn't. But Megan and Preston may have a different philosophy than either of their families of origin, and I thought it important to let Megan know this grandma still doesn't roll that way and doesn't plan on reversing her rolling motion, regardless.

Baby Mac's birthday will be the first occasion that he receives gifts and Bubby doesn't—unlike Christmas and Valentine's Day and Easter. As Megan says, the event "will be interesting" as Bubby gets an important lesson in not being center stage, not being the primary recipient of all the spoils.

Though some might think it harsh, I wasn't willing to give Bubby any spoils on Baby Mac's birthday. Hence the sole gift in the package to the desert family being just for Baby Mac.

Bubby is usually an empathetic little boy, and Baby Mac's party will be his opportunity to realize that empathy includes not only when you feel bad for another, but when you feel good for them, too. Just as I wanted my daughters to empathize with others—especially their sisters—during good times and bad, I want my grandson to learn the same. I want him to be happy for others when good fortune comes their way, to delight in good things happening to those he loves, even when it's something he would oh-so-much love to happen to himself, too.

Jealousy, bitterness, envy, schadenfreude are all such easily learned feelings, attitudes, behaviors. They come naturally, it seems. No one has to teach little boys and girls such concepts, they just simply happen—even if those boys and girls don't know how to define them, what word to attach to them (or how to spell those words, such as schadenfreude, which I still have to look up).

The opposite of such things, though, seemingly must be taught, require lessons. Things such as compassion, goodwill, and sincere delight in another's good fortune.

Sometimes those lessons are learned the hard way.

Sometimes those lessons are learned the easy way—at least incrementally.

And sometimes those lessons are learned by not receiving a gift from Gramma or anyone else when your brother gets one.

It's a new lesson for Bubby, one I hope he accepts, appreciates, and takes to heart without making things too "interesting" for Megan.

I have faith in Bubby and expect it to not be too difficult a lesson for him. Because at his core, Bubby is a kind-hearted kiddo who usually does consider the feelings of others and willingly takes a backseat when necessary.

And because his birthday is just a couple weeks after Baby Mac's. He'll surely take comfort in knowing that Baby Mac will soon get that very same lesson—and at a far younger age than Bubby did.

Today's question:

Was the even-steven-amongst-siblings rule practiced in your family when you were young? What about with your own children? With your grandchildren?

Freeze frame

Today I head to the desert for a five-day visit with Bubby. To him, though, it will likely feel more like a five-day photo shoot -- Gramma takes lots of pictures! By the end of a few days together with Bubby, I usually have 500 or more photos. Enough to get me through until the next time we meet. Enough to last as blog graphics for a few months. Enough to mark our time together.

I'm big on photos. I see them as a record of one's own personal history. When memories of a time, an event, a life fade, the photos are there to remind.

As I get older, I realize my memories are fading fast, yet I hold few photos of my childhood to remind me. In fact, the following photos are the only photos I have of my life before the age of 10. (I have just as few of the years after age 10 -- until I got my own camera at 16 -- but I'll refrain from sharing those as my teeth became more crooked and the hairstyles more funky. Definitely not cute shots, not worth sharing.)

Sibling No. 1, Sibling No. 2, and me, Sibling No. 3.  Sibling No. 4 and me. Siblings Nos. 1-4 and a dog whose name I can't recall. Me, beautiful Bonnie, and Sibling No. 4.

Siblings Nos. 1, 3 (me) and 4 on Dad's parade float for his business. Siblings Nos. 5 & 6 (twins) and me (maybe me?).

The crooked teeth and funky hairstyles begin. Siblings Nos. 2 and 3 on one snowmobile, me with Dad on the other.

The gang of seven (siblings). Paternal grandparents and all seven of us.

Most of us in Florida. I'm second. (Minnesotans not used to sun!) Again, in Florida.

And that's it -- my only photographic reminders of early childhood. The lack of photos in my possession is not because they're in a trunk of my mom's or a stash at my dad's. Nope, that's it.

That won't be the case with my kids, my grandkids, maybe even my great-grandkids. Like I said, I take lots of pictures. I'm certain that one day they'll be thankful for all the flashing and clicking from Gramma.

And I can pretty much guarantee that despite the photos not being all that skillfully taken or perfectly composed, they will all be cute, they will all be worth sharing.

Even if their teeth are crooked and their haircuts funky.

Today's question:

What is your favorite photo of you as a child?