Out of the Mouths of Babes

I had a blog post in mind earlier, I know I did. However, it has vanished back into some dark corner in the vacuum between my ears, thanks to a phone call from my sister. Maybe the idea will reappear, maybe not. Meanwhile, though, the phone call makes for an interesting little story in itself.

Being the eldest of four girls, having my brain picked for advice about men was a pretty common thing, once upon a time. I have a younger brother, too, but he kept his own counsel, which was just as well, really. There are some things that a big sister is just better off not knowing. Lots of things in his case, probably. He’s a responsible, hard-working, almost 33-year-old father of two sons now. But there was a time …

Anyway, the youngest of we girls has been happily married for nigh on nine years now, so I sort of slammed the door shut on the whole man advice thing a long time ago. Well, as far as sisters are concerned. I do have a daughter, of course, but that’s a whole different matter. With a sister it’s sort of, “how do you feel, honestly?” With a daughter it’s more like, “I don’t give a damn how you feel, honestly. This is how I feel and, by god, you had better listen!” Okay, not really, but the expected standards for a sister’s beau do tend to be somewhat lower than those for a daughter.

Back to the point here, the sister next in line behind me is back on the market, so to speak, and has a new “friend”. By one of those strange twists of fate, she ended up being placed in housing right next door to an eligible bachelor, with all of the good qualities which one would wish for in an eligible bachelor living right next door. Which is all very lovely thus far, and a much deserved change of fortune for her. She’s a bit unsure of herself, understandably, so has asked for a bit of advice here and there since this began. But today she needed some major help and big sister’s rusty advice skills were definitely put to the test.

Sister is treading a bit carefully and taking things slowly, but her four-year-old daughter is cut from very different cloth. To her, things are very cut and dried. If you want something, you say so, and it happens, end of story. And she seems to have a very strong sense of want about a relationship between her mom and the neighbour. Of course she never says such things privately to my sister. Rather, she marches next door and makes her feelings known to the “friend”. Which was kind of cute to start with, but it’s getting rather out of hand now. It used to be “my mom likes you” or “why don’t you come over and have coffee with Mom?” But today she marched over and announced that either he had to move in with them or they were moving in with him. She seems to have a wedding all planned out, he’s going to be her new dad, and that’s that. No ifs, ands, or buts, it’s going to happen, because she wants it to.

Stephanie did the exact same thing with Richard and me, so I sort of know how Sister feels. But the difference was that our relationship was already quite serious and we both felt that it was heading towards something permanent. So, her announcement was just sort of an endorsement of what we had already begun to think about ourselves. Not that we had articulated the thought to each other at that point, mind you, but it was there in our own minds. In my sister’s case, though, things are nowhere near that stage at this point and she was embarrassed beyond belief. Which I can understand.

Eventually I think I got her seeing the funny side of it, though. I told her not to worry about the “friend”, as he’s a parent, too, and knows what kids are like at that age. The fact that he was highly amused, rather than horrified, definitely speaks volumes. I’ve never met him, but from what I know about him thus far, this will just roll off him like water off a duck’s back.

The child is another matter, of course, but I’m not sticking my nose into that one. I don’t offer parenting advice, period. If asked, I might respond with a suggestion to consider, but that’s as far as I’m willing to go. Each of us knows our own child best and nobody has the right to tell someone else how to handle their child. In this case it’s also a bit of a cop-out, I must admit. I had my turn at trying to reason with a very, very determined four-year-old and nobody in their right mind would volunteer to take that on again!

Once upon a time I seem to recall my then planning to be childless sister throwing me pitying glances and muttering something about “thank God I’ll never have a child like that.” Well, she didn’t get ” a child like that.” Mine was determined and articulate, but shy at that age. Hers is determined, articulate and very, very, very outgoing. That’ll teach her to mutter, won’t it?


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