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Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Sister's Birthday

My sister Jill turns 50 today ... and I have to make a big deal out of it!!

Jill is exactly two years, two months, and one week older than me, which means I was a mere ten years old when she turned thirteen. And for exactly two years, two months, and one week, she never let me forget that she was teenager, and I was not.

Soooooo, I think it’s only fair that I rub it in that Jill will be in her FIFTIES exactly two years, two months, and one week while I’ll still be in my forties!

Jill and I are good friends now, but we didn’t always get along when we were growing up. Oh, who am I kidding? We never got along when we were growing up!! It was always her fault though, never mine. I was always completely innocent. (Excuse me for a moment while I adjust my halo!) There is, of course, some exaggeration to that ... but she really was pretty mean to me. I guess the “power” of being the oldest of us four little kids went to her head.

(All of you middle children out there know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you?)

Not always, but quite often, the oldest is always the bossiest and the meanest, while the youngest can get away with just about anything. And us poor middle kids? Well, we have to just fend for ourselves. We're generally not big enough to take out the oldest, and where's the sport in beating up your little sisters? Besides, being mean to Penny or Bonnie would be like kicking a puppy. For some reason, though, Jill didn't see it that way ... she saw me as fair game.

Out of eight kids, I was in the middle of bottom set of four kids. So you see, you really couldn’t get much more middle than me. Therefore, it’s safe for all of you to assume I was a near-perfect sibling ... neither bossy, nor mean ... and that my misdeeds seldom went unnoticed or unpunished. 

Jill and I shared a room for many years. That was fun! Do you have any idea what it’s like to share a room with someone who thinks they can do no wrong ... and you can do no right? Back when we shared a room, Jill was a first-class slob, and I, being a neat freak, was her polar opposite.

(Think Felix and Oscar from “The Odd Couple”)

Walking on Jill's side of the room was strictly forbidden unless I needed something from the closet, which was on her side. But, if Jill was in the room, I wasn’t even allowed to retrieve my own clothing from my own closet ... because she could hand it to me. ”You don’t need to come over here,” she would tell me. “I can hand you whatever it is you need.”

This really cramped my style, as I prefer the "sit-on-the-floor-in-front-of-the-closet-and-survey-your-wardrobe" approach before making a decision, and Jill’s rule of banishment really put a kink in my style. I couldn’t sit on the floor and stare into a closet of clothes while deciding what to wear ... I had to tell her what to hand me. And let me tell you, there was no changing your mind. No Siree, Bob. You had better choose wisely the first time, because you got one shot. As Jill so eloquently put it, she was ”not my slave” and she was ”not going to stand there handing me things all day”. 

In Jill’s defense, it’s not like I actually could have sat on the floor in front of the closet. There was no floor on Jill’s side of the room. Well, there was a floor, or at least, I assume there was a floor, but I can honestly say I never actually saw it. The floor on Jill’s side of the room served a multitude of uses. It didn’t just function as a flat surface on which to sit furniture; it also doubled as her closet, chest of drawers, book bag, toy box, etc. I never looked (because I was afraid of being caught on her side of the room and dragged out in her trademark fashion ... by the hair of my head ... caveman style) ... so I can’t say with any certainty, but judging by the sheer volume of stuff on her floor, I sincerely doubt there was anything in any of her drawers or that there was actually anything of hers hanging in the closet. As far as I could tell, she kept everything she owned ... as well as a good bit of what I owned ... on the floor ... on her side of the room. 

The imaginary line dividing our room wasn’t really all that invisible. It was pretty obvious, even to the uninitiated, where the demarcation line was. In order to step into her side of the room, you had to step ... up. You were a good six to ten inches taller on Jill’s side of the room. I made sure to keep the encroaching pile off my side, which required frequent shoveling to keep it from overflowing its boundaries, all the while fearing an avalanche would bury me where I would lay trapped, lost to my family forever ... or at least until Jill went away to college and they decided to bulldoze the debris she left in her wake.

I never understood why I had to share a room with Jill. My mom knew we got along about as well as two male pit bulls. I had two other sisters close to my age that I could have shared a room with. Why were they torturing me?

Wasn’t it enough that I was denied Mrs. Bealsey?

In all fairness, Penny was far too sweet to share a room with Jill ... and Bonnie was simply too innocent. It was survival of the fittest when dealing with Jill. She would have chewed them up and spit them out. Mama had to make a ”Sophie’s Choice” of sorts, and I guess she figured I had a better chance of making it out alive than Penny or Bonnie did. In order to preserve one-fourth of her brood, Mama had no alternative but to sentence me to spend my childhood incarcerated in a cell with Jill. Thus, Penny and Bonnie were spared. That’s okay, though ... I loved my two little sisters enough to sacrifice myself in order to save them. 

Am I a saint or what??!!

I see pieces of Jill in my oldest daughter, Tara (that "entitled oldest child syndrome" thing). I hear Tara saying and doing the exact same things to Jana that Jill said and did to me ... and it drives me up the wall! Apparently there must be some unwritten rule that the oldest is born knowing and the younger ones must learn the hard way (usually at the hand of the less than compassionate eldest). The rule, as it has been presented to me, is that “if the oldest sibling wants to wear something of the younger siblings, then she should be able to do so" ... but the younger one better not even think about wearing the older ones clothes!

I’ve been standing in the bathroom beside Jana while Tara lays into her about wearing her clothes without asking ... only too look over and see Tara wearing my clothes ... without asking! When dealing with the oldest child, it’s futile to point out the irony of the situation. If you try, they’ll always reply ”That’s different!” There’s no point in asking ”How is that different?” You’ll just be met with either a profound ”It just IS!" ... or a heavy sigh, an eye roll, and a view of the back of their head as they storm off, obviously insulted ... angry for having been born into a family too dense to grasp the concept of the rules for proper borrowing.

All of our fights and differences aside, Jill and I had our share of good times as well, but the bad times make for a more interesting blog. Regardless of our fights, I always loved Jill ... even if I didn’t always enjoy her. 

Being her little sister isn’t all bad ... especially right now ... mostly because I’m no longer her roommate!

YEA! Come on! Everyone! Join me in a conga line!!!

But also because for exactly two years, two months, and one week, I’ll still be in my forties ... while Jill is FIFTY YEARS OLD ... and counting!!!!

I love you, Jill. Happy Birthday from the best little sister in the whole wide world!

P.S. Okay, so maybe I'm not the best little sister in the whole wide world ... but give me some credit ... I didn't strangle you in your sleep, did I?!! 

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