I have a friend…. (I know this kind of semi-confessional often start with that, but this is really a friend and not me!)…. Who has three children. The eldest two are both in their late teens. The youngest, a girl is just 5. For the little girl it must have seemed like growing up with several parents for most of her life, although the parenting skills of most teenage boys and girls who aren’t actually parents is probably limited.
For example, when her older brother was charged with babysitting he took her to the skate park with him as he had arranged to meet friends there. Of course (!?), she fell and broke her arm. His response was to buy her some sweets and tell her to “man up, it will stop hurting soon.”
She ended up with a very fetching pink plaster cast and more attention and fuss than anybody could handle, so didn’t come out too badly. Her brother also came out quite well as he hasn’t had to do too much babysitting since then, although ‘man up’ has become a standing joke in the household whenever anything happens.
Her older sister on the other hand has visited no dangerous or life-threatening injuries on her younger sibling. She has merely provided a room that is a treasure trove of all things girly and aspirational; pretty clothes to drag through the dirt, whole bottles of perfume to tip down the sink, sheets of University notes to draw on the back of, anyone who ever had a younger sister (or brother) will know the deal.
Last Christmas my friend came down to find her young daughter attempting a dot-to-dot puzzle at the kitchen table;
“What’re you doing?” she asked.
“Join the dots.”
“How’s it going?”
“It’s a bit hard, I can’t figure out what kind of animal it’s supposed to be”
Her daughter answered as she held up the cover revealing it to be the erotic dot-to- dot puzzle book her big sister had been given as a joke gift.