Tess and Lilou look nothing alike – blond hair and brown, blue eyes and hazel, one skinny and one who still has her baby fat (love!). And yet, they could not act more like sisters. In some ways, I feel they act more like sisters than I did with my biological sisters!
Tess loves to pick up matching clothes for them, and Lilou always goes along with it. When Tess picks out a book, Lilou picks out a book. When Tess stomps her foot, Lilou does too. They even yell under the door and jump on their beds in unison.
Tess told me in gory detail what Lilou’s birthday cake should look like, and then informed me she will have an identical cake for her birthday when it rolls around. Lilou stopped Dave dead in his tracks during a story so that she could run over and bring Tess her bunny, as she knows her sister loves to snuggle during stories. Good habits or bad, new ideas or old, everything Tess does her little sister follows.
Griffs isn’t old enough to be Remy’s shadow yet, but he’s getting close! Remy already likes to wear a matching pajamas, but mostly because he’s watching the girls do it. Griff is starting to copy him at story time and try to pay attention, but he doesn’t really care yet.(Turning pages delights him though!)
So I find myself doing something I remember my parents doing to me: I tell Tess she is responsible for showing her sister how to be good. I remember how unfair those words seem to me when I was little. Why should I have to be responsible for anyone but myself? And yet, being aware of my younger siblings definitely shipped my behavior. Not always in a good way! I did know how to “encourage” to them to do things. But it made me painfully aware that my behavior did have ramifications beyond myself.
Our kids seem to be aware of their impact on each other. It’s not constant, and frankly if it was at these ages it would be weird. But whether it’s fair or not, Tess and Remy and even Lilou have learned that if someone is crying, we expect them to check on them. Whether out of kindness or an unwillingness to get the bigeyes for me, the kids take care of us and each other. Tess knows to stop Lilou from going through kitchen doors, and Remy helps Griff with toys. It may be defensive, but the instinct is there.
So Tess and Remy kiss Lilou goodbye in the morning, because she still cries every time they leave for school. They give her a brusque hug and pat her on the head. No, really. Lilou and Griff barrel them over when we get home, and are genuinely excited for the Bigs to take over the toys again. And they all go up and down stairs with Griff at a crawl, so he’s not tempted to try to walk down before he’s ready.
In the back of my mind, I suspect these beautiful relationships are temporary, or will at least change dramatically over the course of puberty. That said, tickling two not identical girls in identical pajamas and identical beds until they can’t breathe is hilarious and wonderful. Listening to Remy interpret his brother for me at bedtime, as he explains that Griffin needs his music on, delights me.
Do our kids sometimes have epic tantrums because someone’s touching their Legos? Do they throw food and whine and ignore us when we tell them to put their shoes on? Absolutely. Happens all the time. But they cheer each other on during swimming lessons, and help each other put their shoes on. They never let you actually figure out who did the naughty thing when your back was turned, and would rather be punished together then give each other up.
So our beautifully mismatched family seems to get tighter every day, which is pretty cool considering the Bigs are in school every day during the week. And I grow evermore startled when people have to ask me which kids are ours. Isn’t it obvious by now?