siblings

Snow Capped Mountains

So I watch my kids interact with each other as we travel. Three things catch my attention.

One. They play.  It’s hard not to have affectionate feelings for people you play with. Seriously. Sure, occasionally somebody wants to be king or queen of the sandbox, and a battle for sovereignty ensues. But by and large, people who play together enjoy each other. Seems axiomatic, don’t you think?

Two. They make memories.  My kids record playtime as Happy Memories. That is, their happiest remembrances of siblings are linked to times they played together (or got into mischief together). Who doesn’t want to grow their cache of Happy Memories? You know–throw some more treasure onto the pile?

Three. Their fun begs to be watched!  Watching your kids play together makes you smile, which ups your happiness quotient. I defy any mother (or any-Anyone, for that matter) to witness a round of robust playtime and then decide she’d rather hang onto her so-so mood.  Really.  Me?–I find it hard to feel partly cloudly when my kids are spraying sunshine at each other.

Playtime.  Yep.

 

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Take two siblings–a nine-year-old boy, let’s say, and a fourteen-year-old girl.  Tuck them into the woods behind Rupit, in Catalunya, Spain.  Invite them to run.

Now watch them.

Remember when you could run like that?  With such singleminded abandon?

If you cannot, then study this boy and his sister, their joyful movments the perfect trigger for a capricious memory.

Now do you remember?

I do.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Bathroom Girls

The friends, they’re an ocean away. But the siblings, they’re here. So what do you do on a night when you’re itching to braid someone’s hair and then take photos of your handiwork?

You do it with an Eleven O’Clock Sister.

(Hooray!)

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

IMG_3637

Do you have a pair of kids who run hot and cold?  Sometimes they’re famous friends and partners in crime (eating bowls of cereal together up on top of the kitchen soffits), sometimes they’re Montagues and Capulets, if you take my meaning.

IMG_3639

One day, years ago, when I was thinking about these two children and wondering how to grow their love, a small, knowing voice inside me said something like this:  “Pair them up doing what they do well together.”  Hard to translate.  If you have your own “knowing” (a handy thing to dial into, when you can manage to quiet your mind enough), you know that while the meaning of those nuggets of wisdom is perfectly clear to you, it can be hard to put into words that mean anything to anyone else.

Anyway.  I tried to do that.  Tried to create moments of “collision,” where these two could come together in seemingly random ways to be silly and have fun and therefore decide (hopefully) that fun just happened better with a sibling alonside you.  Sometimes it worked.  Sometimes it didn’t.  Their temperaments were so different.  One was often his own best company and thus got impatient when others wanted onto the merry-go-round, as it were.  The other did want company, especially his, and got her feelings bruised when he was in a mood.

There were tears, sure.  But when it all worked . . . wow.  They were meant to be friends, these two.  I knew it.   “They’ll be okay,” promised that voice inside me.

IMG_3640

IMG_3655

Eventually, the younger one decided she really liked who she was and had no particular desire to apologize for it.  Fiercely persistent, she threw herself into her school work, her talents, her friendships, and, predictably, she reaped the rewards of her hard work.  One day, the older one said to me with a bewildered shake of the head, “How does she do it?”  And I smiled, because I knew what he meant.  When I pressed him to explain, he got more specific.  She did hard things, he said.  And she did them surprisingly well.

Now Mr. Older is gone, off in another corner of the world, working hard himself and thinking, occasionally (his letters suggest as much), about the younger sibling he has come to value deeply.  Turns out that one of the things each treasures most about the other is the very particular brand of silliness that defines so many of their moments together.

IMG_3638

They did the work of getting acquainted as friends.  They get to have the fun. And I get to be reminded, as I sift through these photos of our European adventures of last summer, that I ought to relax more, secure in the fact that my own knowing had it right all along:  they laugh hardest when they’re together.

(In these photos:  The Two, embracing their inner nerds in Nuremberg, Germany.)

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Amsterdam_8727

You know those moments that, when they happen, feel both totally spontaneous and perfectly planned?–like they were always meant to happen but just needed the right kind of chaos to seed them?  Well, the chaos, we definitely had:  two adults and four kids in a small, European car in Amsterdam, where we almost killed several people who, blithely pedaling along on their bikes, had no idea they had just missed a date with death.  And did I say four kids?–three teens and one eight-year-old?  And did I mention that the teens, all arms and legs, simply could not manage to fold themselves comfortably into those darned seats?  Moreover, did I add that the eight-year-old (now nine, and with a new permanent tooth coming in on top!), the smallest person in the car, was certain he was being breathed on, squished, smashed, and generally disrespected by his (mostly patient) older siblings?

So, on the road to Zaanse Schans, when several cows grazing in a roadside pasture ignited an idea in the mind of one of our daughters, we seemed meant to stop and capture the moment on film.  And now that the oldest, gone for two years, is away from us, this little video gives us all the perfect opportunity not only to see him and hear his voice again but also to contemplate what happens when kids and cows and cameras are thrown into collision.

The cure for road trip madness:  a video camera, several imaginative kids, and as many laid back Dutch cows.

Amsterdam_8767

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

My youngest adores his older sisters. Mostly. And, like all “caboose” children, he sometimes finds the girls exasperating, like when they try to tell him his business. Or kiss his face so much he worries his dignity has been permanently compromised. That’s the beauty of getting out of the house. Out of town. Out of the country, even! In a new venue, all that sister love translates into the most miraculous forms of distraction.

On the coast of the Mediterranean: combing the sand for beach glass and rocks to add to a special collection. Brilliant.

Tossa_3556

Especially if you’re a boy who loves rocks of every kind, and more especially if you’re a boy with a sister who will stay in the sand with you until the tide comes up or the light dies or the world ends, whichever happens first. Having an older sibling of the female variety who loves to hunt for objects both small and beautiful–what a boon!

Tossa_3553

And older sisters are the perfect people to show off to, aren’t they? So you think you can skip a rock the size of a cell phone all the way to Greece, do you? But whether you can or can’t isn’t the point. The point is that two sisters will watch . . . and watch. And when you decide to downshift to smaller rocks (for the sake of the beach, of course, since we wouldn’t want to empty it of all cell-phone-size rocks, now would we?) and surprise!–the little ones SKIP!–it’s the big sisters who holler and cheer like you’ve just been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Tossa_3539

Will the world ever be as easy to conquer as it was the day your teenage sisters made you feel like The Master of Costa Brava? Hooray for them for all the times they hugged you so tight they nearly squeezed the life out of you. Their devotion will come in mighty handy someday, when the presence in your life of two good women may likewise attract the presence of others.

Tossa_3531

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

A Dip in the Mediterranean? Anyone?

by Becky on October 13, 2012

in Fun, Travel

It’s odd to watch the sun rise from the ocean each morning.  Where we lived before, the sun rose from behind Saddleback Mountain in Southern California and sank into the sea in the late afternoons.  And now, a beach . . . to the east of us?!  Silas and Millie had to check this out!

Beach _1169

Great swimming buddies, these two.  Always have been.  Something about facing the waves together.

Beach_1170

We’ll leave the ocean sunsets to the West Coast crowd for a while.  Without the sun to steal the afternoon show, it’s all about the swim team.  And the water.

Beach _1176

Do you have a favorite beach?  A special place you went with a swim buddy/sibling?  Do tell!

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Hey. Guys. Bratislava Is Hot!

by Becky on July 23, 2012

in Fun

  • Bratislava - Tessa and Millay walking away Bratislava - Tessa and Millay walking away Bratislava - Tessa and Millay walking away
  • Bratislava - Tessa and Millay smiling big Bratislava - Tessa and Millay smiling big Bratislava - Tessa and Millay smiling big
  • Bratislava - Dad with Paparazzi Bratislava - Dad with Paparazzi Bratislava - Dad with Paparazzi
     

So we dock in Bratislava, Slovakia and set off, all of us, to discover the city.  The roiling summer heat nearly scares us back to our air conditioned cruise ship, but we persevere.  And hey!–the city brings out the kid in everyone!  The camera loves my kids loving this place.
  • Bratislava - Millay on man Bratislava - Millay on man Bratislava - Millay on man
  • Bratislava - Tessa and Millay goofing off Bratislava - Tessa and Millay goofing off Bratislava - Tessa and Millay goofing off
  • Bratislava - Tessa and Millay on side street Bratislava - Tessa and Millay on side street Bratislava - Tessa and Millay on side street
  • Bratislava - Tessa and Millay as ballerinas Bratislava - Tessa and Millay as ballerinas Bratislava - Tessa and Millay as ballerinas
  • Bratislava - Street marking Bratislava - Street marking Bratislava - Street marking
  • Bratislava - Tessa on lamp post 2 Bratislava - Tessa on lamp post 2 Bratislava - Tessa on lamp post 2
  • Bratislava - Tessa on lamp post Bratislava - Tessa on lamp post Bratislava - Tessa on lamp post
  • Bratislava - Millay at door Bratislava - Millay at door Bratislava - Millay at door
  • Bratislava - Tessa at door Bratislava - Tessa at door Bratislava - Tessa at door
  • Bratislava - Tessa and Millay another ballerina pose Bratislava - Tessa and Millay another ballerina pose Bratislava - Tessa and Millay another ballerina pose
     

{ Comments on this entry are closed }