Originally posted Jan. 27, 2008
Holly sure has a way with words. Yesterday, after we dropped Noah off at his friend's house, she said the coolest thing.
"Ahh, flooded with freedom," she wistfully sighed, with arms outstretched. Perplexed, I turned around to see what was up. Cool air from the open window washed over her half-smiling face, as she reclined like a wilted flower against the seat back. Huh. Turns out, or so she said, that she was thrilled to have an hour of peace with her older brother otherwise occupied.
Control of the remote, her parents' undivided attention and liberation from unsolicited wrestling matches notwithstanding, sometimes a girl just needs a breather. Sounds reasonable.
I found it odd, though, as Holly often provokes her big brother, as little girls often do, inspiring those matches. And the kids usually prefer the same shows on TV. Noah's taught her how to play his games and often expresses admiration for her skills, even when she beats him. They are two peas in a pod, each other's favorite playmate, with conflict being the exception rather than the rule. (Don't you just wanna gag?)
I've always marveled at how thoughtful the kids are toward each other. If I'm at the bank with one, a second lollipop is always requested for the other. And if Holly shops with me at Trader Joe's, "I need one for my brother, too," she says, when the cashier offers her a balloon. Recently, when Holly's ballet dress rehearsal was slated for the same exact time her new BFF's birthday party was scheduled to occur, Noah whispered conspiratorially to me, "We've gotta find a way to get her to that party." My heart just melted. I shouldn't be surprised at this expression of Noah's tender heart on Holly's behalf, even though he's only nine. Unless she kicks him in the crotch (and she has), he always sticks up for her.
I always wanted a big brother. I was six years old before I finally quit begging my parents for one. I guess I came to grips with the facts of life, realizing that it just wasn't in the cards. I got a younger sister and two little brothers instead. I made do, but it wasn't the same. I imagined a big brother to follow, to tease, who would take care of me and always look out for me. Why I longed for a big brother, I cannot even imagine. Who knows? Maybe I had one in a past life.
And then it came to me: perhaps Holly's "freedom" comment belied the truth. Was she was missing Noah already, though we hadn't even finished backing out of his buddy's driveway?
This morning I found Holly curled up in a faded green quilt in my bed, with three of her stuffed animal babies tucked in beside her.
"Hey Holly, remember yesterday when …Well, is it possible that you were actually maybe missing Noah?" I asked tentatively.
"Just a little?" I tried, wincing.
"No! Well, maybe a little," she hastily added, showing me just how little with her fingers. Then she yanked the quilt over her head and squealed her little girl squeal.
"It'll be our little secret," I whispered, kissing her quilt-covered face.
Flooded with freedom, indeed.
Jennifer DuBose, M.S., C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Batavia.
See more of Jennifer's stories here.