Direct quote from The Middlest Sister.
My sister was 12 yesterday. I am the eldest and she is the fifth of eight children. I was a few months shy of 11 when she was born, and I think I was the most enthusiastic about feeding her and carrying her about and ‘looking after’ her for Mum than any of the other babies that I remember. She was a millenium baby (I wonder if that will mean anything someday?) I made my Mum promise no more, 5 was more than enough. She agreed with me at the time!
Now I feel a little pang of sadness at the distance between us. I don’t feel that I really know her. She has started secondary school this year and has seemingly got a good bit quieter, grumpier, serious. She wears some make up and sometimes even tan on her legs for school. This makes me worry that the all girl school puts her under pressure to do these things. I can talk to my Mum easier than I talk to her about these things. Her clothes are cheap and cheerful like the rest of us, but always pretty and fashionable, and even something I’d wear, grown up without being unsuitable. Chinos and long cardigans and headscarves and coolness.
I was greasy haired and big eyebrow-ed, wouldn’t think of make-up for a good few years, very uncomfortable in my skin and massive school blazer… at that age. I suppose I didn’t have 3 elder sisters to mimic but she is streets ahead of me on the cool scale.
Things she does reminds me recently so strongly of myself… What really struck me as I mooched around home the last few weekends, as I never usually do… was that she listens to the charts on Sundays on a Cd player/radio. It’s not as fun as it sounds, if you’ve ever listened to them… it goes on for hours, but I did it too, sometimes. When I was that age, children were cruel and I didn’t have a clue about music. It was really a worry and sore spot for me because I felt people laughed at me for not being able to sing along. I remember asking my cousin to teach me the names of the members of Westlife in a Virgin Megastore in Scotland, and I remember crying when my aunt bought me a Spice Girls necklace because I didn’t know anything about them and I felt I should. I wonder if she is hanging around waiting through the Top 40 all Sunday afternoon because she wants to, or because she is listening carefully for the secrets of growing up and fitting in, that are as closely guarded as this week’s number one.
The girls in our house have all kind of paired off, and this sister would be closest to Marie, my 14 year old sister who is currently at the same school. I am only realising this now, really, about the girls as I write this. The two boys… well my brother at the same University as me, keeps himself to himself, wouldn’t be caught dead with any of us. Jake-meister is adored by all at 2 years old and has cuddled his way into everyone’s clicks. We are very close as a general rule but we’ve divided off temporarily and by no means exclusively in this way for now.
Anyway, I think age 12 is the age I should try to reach out a hand to my sister, she maybe could do with the been-there-done-that comfort, if we can break the awkward barrier. I’m not feeling like a very good big sister of late.
To new beginnings… And better showings of love! Happy 12th Birthday Grace.