“Me too! Me too! Me too!” Thumper utters in one breath as she trails behind her sister, trying to copy her next move, whatever that may be. Sitting at the back of the couch? Sure. Jumping off a mini ledge? Yes. Eating jellyfish and sushi? Of course!
Yes, we’re at this me too me too stage now, and that’s pretty much all we hear all day. The two-year-old may not end up enjoying everything, but she at least tries them because she wants to emulate her big sister, who, at 4.5 years, already has a rather profound influence on her development at this stage.
Big sisters do that apparently.
We get a lot of “I don’t yike this either!” as Thumper joins in on her sister’s protest du jour. And we certainly hear more “Missy hit me pirst (first)!“ than we care to. Naturally, where there are two, there’s bound to be blame and competition: “Me won!” “No, Thumper, I won!” “No, me won pirst!” “There’s no such thing. I won! You lost!” “Yes, me yost!”
There’s also plenty of pretend playing, with the girls alternating mommy and baby roles every day. Today, Thumper declared to me first thing in the morning, “Me the mommy; Missy is the baby” and she called out to Little Miss, “I’ll be wight back, teetaht (sweetheart)” in her most sophisticated mommy voice. It can be pretty hilarious, especially when we’re in public and Thumper runs after her sister, calling, “Mama, mama!” confusing or amusing the strangers around her.
I may not have a sibling, but I expected all of this. I knew this was a natural progression for a two-year-old making her own place within our family, vying for attention, establishing her identity relative to her bigger, more capable older sister.
Yet, sometimes, even when I am fully aware of to expect, I am taken aback when I am suddenly faced with what I knew would happen. Like this moment last Thursday:
After Little Miss huffily stormed into the bedroom and begrudgingly sat on the little green chair in the corner for a timeout, Thumper followed her and planted herself on the floor right beside her, facing her sister.
“Don’t go in there, Thumper. Your sister is in timeout.” I said, but it fell on deaf ears. Instead, I saw Thumper whispering to her sister, and she held out her hand to stop me from entering the bedroom.
Thumper knew I wasn’t pleased with her sister’s irreverence. I think she also suspected that Little Miss had a little bit of defiance left in her as she sat squirming and itching to retaliate further from her timeout chair.
That’s when Thumper gently patted her big sister’s knee and quietly said, “You stay here,” as if to say listen to mommy, stop fighting, and you can get out of here.
And in that same motion, when their eyes met, it felt like she had also assured her big sister that she was there, at her side, and more importantly, on her side.
Little Miss stopped twitching. Both girls turned to look at me with the same dark eyes, in solidarity, daring me to penetrate an invisible shield they had both created from an implicit understanding.
I took a moment to drink that moment in, and then chose to walk away, in awe of what I’d just witnessed. They were on the same side. Two against one.
Suddenly, that part of our future unfolded before me and sent an uncomfortable twist to my sides. I knew they would unite against me someday, but it did nothing to prepare me for it.
I have to admit, as much as I hated being the one to their two, I was proud to see them taking a stand together. Oh how I wish it was the beginning of an amazing and unbreakable bond between these girls.
A sisterhood of shared secrets, spoken and unspoken, of hands and hearts bound together, by blood and by choice.
As with any parent of two or more children, I can only hope that when I’m no longer here for them, they will be there for each other, which is why being one against their two doesn’t bother me as much.