She arrived, not in the flurry of action one usually expects with such things, but with a quiet car ride.
To be honest, at the time, I had no idea what was going on, only that “There’s a surprise for you.” (I’ve since come to be a bit more careful with where I let that particular phrase lead me.)
A few hours later, a small, chubby baby girl was being placed into my arms.
My questions of “What’s this?” and “Why?” were met by my parents with:
“Cliff, this is Ansley. She’s the new baby and your new little sister.”
I don’t think she knew what she was in for. She might not have stuck around if she had.
She couldn’t have expected my mother’s over-fondness for hairbows. The minute the kid had the slightest tuft of hair on her head, she had a bow of some size or color on it that remained well into the kid’s intermediate school years. I always assumed Minnie Mouse had had a yard sale.
She couldn’t have known that one day her older brother, bored with playing with the Nintendo, would want to play “real-life barber shop” and would take several inches of growth off of that bow-topped head. Toddlers don’t talk much when you tell them to do something, especially if the ones giving the orders is at the august age of 10.
I’m amazed she survived our childhood, actually.
Ansley was the one who had the presence of mind to fetch an adult the time I thought it would be a good idea to set birthday wrapping paper on fire inside of our not-so-well ventilated kids’ room. (In my defense, I’d managed to put the fire in the trashcan out before Mom charged in; the billowing smoke cloud lingering in the air made it seem way bigger than it actually was.)
She survived numerous attempts from her older brother to launch her off of the trampoline and into our backyard neighbor’s yard.
An early allergy to eggs she developed as a baby was constantly tested, as her older brother believed she “had to be faking it” to get attention, so he may or may not have tried to slip eggs into her food from time to time.
Overly cruel? Possibly.
There is a school of thought, however, that older brothers have a dual mission when it comes to a female sibling: show them cruelty and meanness (so that they know what those are and how to recognize them) and then to protect them (as best we can) from anyone else ever being cruel or mean to them. It’s an extension of the “No one messes with my family but me” doctrine that has long been in practice here.
I may not have been the best or most loving sibling, but I’ve tried to keep the kid sister on a path less winding than mine, for her safety and my own.
This week, she’s finally reached the age where she’ll be able to share an age-appropriate beverage with her older brother, and, perhaps scarier, our parents and their like.
I’m not ready to be old enough to think of my “baby” sister being of drinking age, but there I am.
Happy Birthday, Ansley.
You’re a kind young woman with a bright future ahead of you. Just stay far away from any advice that bearded lunatic older brother of yours gives.