By Lisa Sugarman
Now because of the simple reality that once certain words hit the air they generally start a chain reaction and jinx whatever goodness you’re talking about in the first place, I probably shouldn’t even bring this up. In fact, I’m probably dooming myself, and the relationship between my two daughters, just by virtue of even talking about this. But what the hell, I’m doing it for the greater good of humanity.
I feel strongly that, as parents, we all need to be reassured that our children will, eventually, stop annoying each other. And it’s because this information is so critical to the emotional survival of all the parents of multiple kids out there, I feel it’s my responsibility to pass along even the smallest nugget of proof that it is, actually, possible for our children to be friends.
See, my girls are probably textbook examples of how siblings can both love and despise each other at the exact same time. They’re typical sisters—always in each other’s face, always under each other’s skin, always and forever annoying each other simply by breathing and exhaling. But they’ve also unconditionally got each other’s backs on any given day, which, observing them as the only child that I am, is both mindboggling and awe-inspiring to me as their mom.
Because while Dave and I have always been absolutely certain that our girls have always had the capacity to be each other’s best friend, the reality is that people who live together, under the same roof, especially kids, just inherently find ways to piss each other off. It’s just human nature.
Now I know that not all siblings go at it with each other. Some just happily coexist for a variety of different reasons like chemistry or age difference or personality traits. But I do know that it’s more common than not that siblings go through phases when they can’t stand the sight of each other. And while I’m certainly not saying that that’s what my girls are like, because fortunately for me they’re not, they’ve definitely honed the ability to irritate each other in ways that defy explanation just by virtue of being in the same room together.
Whether it’s blinking too loudly or leaving too much hair in the sink or “borrowing” too much eyebrow gel, the two of them have an uncanny way of knowing which buttons to push with each other that inevitably elicits the most intense reaction possible.
Like when Libby was Face Timing with Riley last week while Riley was in her dorm room with her friends. Libby thought that going into Riley’s bedroom at home and pretending to move stuff around was the perfect way to mess with her big sister. Which, of course, it was. Or when Riley waits until Libby gets up from the couch to refill her water glass and then slides into her spot, staking claim under the You-Snooze-You-Lose Rule.
But when one of them is in a funk or needs to vent or needs a sympathetic ear, the other one is there. Unconditionally. And it’s because of that unconditional love that I always knew they had the power to be each other’s bestie. Kind of like the power that Dorothy always had to get home to Kansas whenever she wanted—it just took her awhile to figure out that she had it all along.
Flash forward to present day, more specifically last weekend, because it represented a critical junction in their relationship. It was the first time that Libby was spending the weekend at Riley’s college, meeting Riley’s friends, sleeping in the dorm, spending time with her roommate. And while I know for a fact that they were each really excited at the chance to spend this time together, Dave and I were still leery of them both coming out of the weekend still speaking.
Could they pull it off? Could they transcend the confines of their big-sister-little-sister relationship and just be two sisters having fun together in the city for the weekend? The over-under was at about 50/50, so it could easily have gone either way.
Now I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that there was some part of me (us) that expected to get a late-night text that first night from one of them saying that the other one was driving her nuts, in spite of the fact that pep talks and reminders were given on both sides.
But then the inconceivable happened…the text never came. The phone never rang. And the next morning, when I finally mustered the courage to text them both to ask how their night was and the text I got back was Good!, I knew we had finally made it to the Promised Land. How long we’ll be there is unknown, but it’s a truly beautiful place, let me assure you.
So, friends, I’m here to reassure you that the seemingly impossible is possible. And while it can, realistically, take fifteen to eighteen years to get there, you’ll eventually make it. Just be patient.
Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItIsWhatItIsColumn. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on Amazon.com and at select Whole Foods Market stores.