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Big brother, little sister

Sibling revelry

Published

By Paulyne L. Fermin

There is an eight year age difference between my firstborn M and my daughter R. The younger one joined our tightly knit family of three at a time we least expected it and her arrival has changed our lives in ways I never fathomed. The biggest adjustment, however, had to be made by my son. He wanted a younger brother and had a boy’s name picked out when my perinatologist burst his bubble by announcing mom was to have a best friend.

The Fermin siblings at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

The Fermin siblings at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Five months after the big revelation. R came home to our house and filled it with (I wish I can say laughter) 24/7, all day all night, nonstop bawling.  She cried when she was hungry, cried when she was wet, and cried just because she wanted to. Her teary episodes continued until she was four. This amused M to no end and he made it his business to make her cry some more at every opportunity he got. “She looks cute when she’s mad,” he replied when I asked him why he delighted in riling her up.

The siblings’ relationship became more riveting when R learned to talk at about a year and a half. M spoke to his sister like he would any other person, which might have been the reason for her extensive and very interesting vocabulary. He became very protective of her when there were other children around and repeated Dad’s words to her constantly. “Do not talk to boys, okay?”

M also helped me in teaching his sister, who was then three, how to write the alphabet, read simple words, and later on, do math. Although the learning exercises brought a new wave of dramatic moments, R knew she had to step up and be as good as “kuya.” “You’re lucky Mom is not as tough on you as she was with me. Just wait until you enter the big school,” I heard him say one time when the younger one refused to do her math drills.

Today M is 13 and R is five and their dynamic is still as colorful as ever. He is into film and music so she is, too, because my little girl wants to know about everything that her brother likes. She tattletales on him all the time, which infuriates M to no end. He rough plays with her, which maddens me to no end. He would make fun of her comments and she would answer with a punch line of her own. Sometimes, my husband would get irked about all the shenanigans and noise but most times we would all have a hearty laugh.

I remember the day R came home and showed me a drawing she made in school. Her kindergarten teacher had asked her class to illustrate what they were most thankful for. She drew our family standing side by side, holding hands, and wrote the following words, “Thank you God for giving me and kuya to Mom and Dad. Now we are a happy family.”

Being a mother to M and R remains as my greatest achievement and blessing. The children now fill our home with much love, laughter, and mischief of all sorts. What could be better than that?

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