“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. ‘Pooh!’ he whispered. ‘Yes, Piglet?’ ‘Nothing’ said Piglet taking Pooh’s paw, ‘I just wanted to be sure of you.'” – A.A. Milne
After I landed at the airport on Friday night, I received a text from my nanny as I was making my way home:
“Lessons of the week:
- Big sisters make the world go round
- You can’t out-bargain a 3-year-old
- Sometimes you just gotta go out in your underwear”
Quite frankly, I was impressed that she was able to get Mr. D to go out in underwear when he has more often than not opted for the full on naked this summer.
And then she expanded on the role that Miss O played during the week.
“I’m just so thankful for and impressed by [Miss O]! There were some really emotional moments with [Mr. D] and she was there for a hug whenever he needed it! She helped me find things around the house, helped me interpret some of his words, and has a true talent for knowing exactly where Bunbun [D’s beloved stuffy] is at all times.”
It made me think of my family of origin. I have an older brother who always made me laugh and cherished me. And I had an older sister that was angry that I came along and was jealous of the easy way I rolled through life.
It seems to me that siblings are the first team that we join in life. Not surprisingly, I was delighted to be on my brother’s team when we were growing up. These days we don’t talk all the time – or even all that often. But if I need to feel better about something incomprehensible, no one can match the comfort I get from my brother.
And if I want to know how to do something, I watch my big brother.
When I don’t understand how the world works, the person I listen most to is my big brother.
He’s like a huge filter of the information I take in as if his context provides me a starting point of where I need to go next.
In my business, I frequently help companies turn data into information. That is to say, there is often too many sources of content and not enough time for workers to verify them. For instance, there may be so many versions of the company background sales presentation, that a new employee may not understand which one to use when her boss tells her to start with that. So I help build systems that tell people which content is trustworthy.
I suspect our older siblings are like that – the systems that help us to know where to start. Whether we learn to trust what they say or to do the opposite of what they say, either way they are a reference point. And when they are trustworthy sources, we have an advantage of using them to help us read the world.
I don’t always listen to my brother, agree with him or even talk with him – but I am forever attuned to taking cues from him. And I suspect little D is growing up to do the same with his sister.
When Mr D was first walking, Miss O decided to train him to give her hugs on command. She’d clap her hands and then yell “hug” and he’d come running (some of the time). When I came home after being away last week, it was like that bond they’ve been building for three years was that much stronger. I’m so grateful not only for the team I have with my brother, but that my kids are building their own team.
How do you feel about your siblings?
If you want to see a video of Miss O training D to give hugs, check out my instagram @wynneleon
I’ve also written about the split in my family of origin because I’ve come to see my older sister’s suffering as one that started when we were young as a feeling of not belonging. More on that at Forgiveness or Letting Go?