I drive past Richfield Middle School and spot Antonio and Crystel a block away. The 12-year olds are walking home from school. Backpacks slung over their shoulder. Track bags dangling at their side. Walking shoulder to shoulder. My heart warms. I’ve always wanted them to be friends. To be proud to call each other brother and sister.
I don’t believe that sibling friendship comes naturally. Friendships among siblings need to be nurtured.
What comes natural is comparison, competition, and mine, mine, mine.
Years ago, when I was the stay at home mom, Santa brought Antonio a Disney princess doll set and Crystel Spiderman pajamas. Santa was attempting to even the score that the four-year olds were keeping.
Why does he have a different laundry basket than me?
Do I get three licorice?
Does Crissy get a timeout too?
Can I help? Crissy got to use the mop last time.
Why did the tooth fairy bring him ….
I took a bath first last time.
I’m growing, Crystel’s not.
How come I don’t get no cars?
Antonio and Crystel looked to the other to see how they were doing.
To nurture a friendship between the two I sought out opportunities for them to be nice to each other. This could be in the form of passing a dessert, opening a door, saying a kind word, buying the other a birthday or Christmas present, or letting the other be first.
To enrich their friendship I noticed when someone’s heart was hurt and insisted the children make amends to each other. This could be a hug or saying something they liked about the other. Later when they were older it meant putting the words into writing, which they taped to their bedroom wall.
Even now on Crystel’s wall is a letter to her from six-year old Antonio that says:
1. hes the bes. (She’s the best)
2. hes fune. (Shes’s fun)
3. hes cule. (She’s cute)
4. ses sow moch fun to plau weht (She’s so much fun to play with)
On the other side of the letter is a picture of Raikou Pokemon that he drew for her.
It’s teaching the children that privacy is good and respect for each other is a must.
It’s reminding them that the other was there for them when they met their birth mom and siblings and now it’s their turn to be supportive.
It’s celebrating their strengths and having compassion for their weaknesses.
One will always be faster. “I’ll wait for you, Cissy.”
One will always be braver. “You first, Cissy.”
It’s letting them know that the world is a big place and that the Richfield Cross Country team is big enough for both of them. They both can choose running as their ‘thing’.
And, in the Spring when it comes time for sixth grade track and one doesn’t want to join because they don’t know anybody on the team and they don’t want to be a loner, they can count on the other one to look out for them and save them a place on the grass.
I pull the car over to the curb. Antonio and Crystel recognize me. Antonio opens the front passenger door and tosses his bags in. Then he opens the back door and slides in next to Crystel.
I smile at them. “I’m glad you’re friends.”