Something strange has been happening at my house for the past few weeks. The kids have been getting along.
I know, weird, right?
On a recent afternoon, DQ had just finished asking me if she could bring Taz along with her some of the times she went out to hang with her friends. The two have never been known for getting along. DQ is usually bossy and mean to her 12-year-old brother. Taz, in return is generally a tease and nuisance to his 15-year-old sister.
But now? The sibling bond has been holding fast. I couldn’t help questioning DQ about the sudden shift in their relationship.
“Do you think it’s because the two of you got some time apart from each other?” I asked her, referring to Taz’s recent solo visit with their dad. She had chosen not to visit her father for two reasons: because she had just moved back home after living there for a month and a half, and because it gave Taz a chance to hang out with their dad all by himself. At least those were the reasons she gave me. I had a hunch the biggest reason for staying home was to hang out with the guy she was dating.
“I guess,” she answered. “But I think it’s more than that. I guess I just keep forgetting that he’s going through all the same stuff I’m going through.”
And suddenly, I understood.
I have two sisters. Melissa is only a year younger than me, and we shared a room. Heather is five years my junior — which isn’t a lot now, but felt like decades when we were younger. Growing up, we had our fair share of fights. I mastered the fine art of pinching Melissa so I could leave bruises but not draw blood. And Melissa was a pro at pulling my long hair. But both of us would tag team Heather, ganging up on her because she was always getting in our way.
I was jealous of Melissa. She had a lot more friends than I did and was a lot prettier. She spent a lot of her time hanging out at other people’s houses since she was always invited out. I enjoyed staying home in my room, reading a book. She joined the cheerleading team and ran for track. I imagined secret passageways in my bedroom, leading to magical lands where no one could find me. She was tall and slender, I was short and pudgy. She was clean, I was messy. We were night and day, black and white, oil and water.
And despite all that, we were also the best of friends.
At night we’d lie awake while I told her made-up stories using shadow puppets. On long car rides, we performed every single song we knew while riding in the back seat. When our parents got into the occasional fight, we were there to reassure each other that we’d stand together through the divorce (my parents just celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary). And while we could argue like it was nobody’s business, we were also each other’s strongest allies. I knew all her secrets, and she knew mine. We held a million of them from our parents, covered for each other in times of trouble, and had heartfelt discussions about all the weird stuff that was going on with us as we grew into our awkward teenage selves.
And now, as adults, we’ve all come into our own. We have our own lives, our own friends, our own accomplishments and struggles. And we’re all really good friends — even the “annoying” one (who ended up not being so annoying after all).
We also hold a bond that no one else could ever understand. We share the same history, come from the same mold, and were raised the same way. It’s hard to think about the time in the future when our parents are no longer around. But when that happens, my sisters and I will still have each other. We are each other’s link to a story no one else shares, and no one can take that away from us.
Taz and DQ have the same bond. Through all the changes, the one thing that has been constant is the common link they share to a history all their own. They may resort back to their fighting days. They may swear that they hate each other. Or who knows, they may even remain friends from here on out.
Regardless of how these younger days play out, my children will still hold the keys to our mutual past when I am no longer here. And no one can take that away from them.
Crissi Langwell is the moderator at SantaRosaMom.com, an online community for parents in Sonoma County.
*This article printed in the Press Democrat on Friday, May 3