When I was pregnant with Fiona, I remember secretly wishing it was a boy (we were Team Green).
I have detailed in past posts my worries about Drake and his sensory processing disorder. He has always marched to his own beat, and I think one of the hardest realizations for me as his mother is his lack of need for friends. It has definitely changed as he has grown, but overall I think Drake is someone who not only needs few friends in his life, but also needs to have friends who will seek him out and include him more than he will reciprocate himself. In some ways, he is like Mr. Chocolate who also mostly relies on me, his family – especially his sister and mother, and a few co-worker friends who include him purposely. With these experiences in mind, as well as an article I read shortly after Drake’s birth about how it’s harder for boys to maintain male friendships past the middle school years, it made me hope that my third child would be a brother for Drake. A brother, after all, is a built-in male friendship. I figured it was a way to ensure that Drake would always have someone to closely bond with even if right now he prefers the companionship of girls much more than boys. I reasoned that Juliet as a girl would probably find it easier to make friends outside of our immediate family. I myself as an only child found ways to make wonderful friendships that have lasted well over two decades now, and personality-wise Juliet is a lot more easy going than Drake.
And then Fiona was born a girl. Drake was delighted to have another sister, but I admit I was a little scared. Having nannied for two sisters who did all the things you hear about sisters doing to each other, spying on each other’s diaries, stealing each other’s clothing and belongings, messing with their sister’s friends and boyfriends as well as seeing a few all out sister fights with hair pulling, wrestling, and slamming doors had me terrified for the teenage years that would lay ahead. Also being in the middle child position I thought it would have given Juliet a better footing in our home as the only girl; someone that I could have one on one time with to do girly things just the two of us.
At first, Juliet paid little to no attention to Fiona whatsoever. It was really Drake who loved to have a little baby in the house, asking to see her in the morning or wanting to hold her or be near her. Juliet, who still has a low interest in dolls, seemed to have no sisterly curiosity whatsoever about the new baby in our home. Once Fiona could actually move around, it was usually shrieks of anger that Fiona had dared to touch anything that belonged to Juliet. Those little glimpses made me wonder if sisters were all they were cracked up to be.
And then something changed. Fiona, for what it’s worth, is a very keen imitator. At a very young age, she would start to try to copy facial expressions, hand movements, etc. My mother-in-law, who comes once a week to help me out, commented on it very early on. And like many babies her siblings were by far and wide the most interesting, fascinating, and fun people in her life to copy.
At the start of the school year, shortly after Fiona turned one, Drake started full day 1st grade and Juliet part time pre-k, leaving me home alone with Fiona til about noon when Juliet comes home. Once Juliet is home I have around three hours with just my two girls until Drake comes home. During the day when both Drake and Juliet are away, Fiona loves playing in their bedrooms, being allowed to touch any toys without admonishment. Juliet as well loves to take advantage of bedroom play when Drake isn’t around. Juliet is at the age where she loves role playing, picnics, tea parties, doctor, and dress up are all up her alley, and all of those games are more fun with someone else. At first, Juliet would set up her play with me but Fiona’s natural interest in her siblings, as well as her fascination with imitation, led her to start joining in on the tea parties and picnics. After Juliet would start dressing up with items from her dress up trunk, Fiona would also start to rummage around looking for something to wear too. Little by little Juliet started to see Fiona as a playmate instead of just another body in the house. Their play started to take on a more active role where Juliet would dash off somewhere calling Fiona to follow, and of course her doing so. Watching the giggles, chases, and hugs that have sprung out from this new budding friendship as a mother has made me see what a wonderful gift Fiona is to Juliet and how wonderfully sisters can be. Juliet is currently in a Frozen obsession and while I enjoyed the movie when I first saw it a few years ago, seeing the relationship between Juliet and Fiona blossom in front of me has made me realize what a wonderful celebration of sisterhood it really is. I have been able to use bits from the movie to explain to Juliet how special her relationship with Fiona is, that she is the Anna to her Elsa and how much fun and love there is for them with one another. And so while I think I might always wish for a brother for Drake, I now see what a gift I have given my daughters too in having one another forever.
Hugs by the Christmas tree