Growing up with a brother exactly two years younger than me, I always wanted a sister; as if it was my brother’s gender and not our chalk and cheese personalities that had us at continuous logger heads. When my second brother was born, I was six and a half, and devastated that my longed-for sister hadn’t materialised. I plagued my mother for years to produce a sister for me as if having a sister to share my doll’s house, bedroom and concerns with, would solve all my sibling problems.
When I had my own daughters, 19 months apart, I was thrilled for them and me. Who needed a sister when they could have two daughters? I felt duly compensated. For the most part they have been good buddies, making our move from Manila easier as they had each other. They also spend hours amusing each other without the need for any adult intervention which as any parent will recognise is a godsend: it may not mean peace and quiet, but it has allowed a few much appreciated weekend lie-ins ‘til eight o’clock.
Of course as they grow older, and their very disparate personalities emerge, we have wonderful moments of sisterly fighting too, when each declares that they wish they didn’t have a sister, sulking at me as if their sibling rivalry was all my fault. Clearly, there are times, when they both think they’d be better off with just a younger brother. My younger daughter (51/2) in particular often feels a bit short changed that she has a sister who gets to go to the big school first, who reads fluently, is outgoing and confident and, although she hasn’t yet noticed but surely will in time, has sallower skin which turns golden in the sun, as opposed to her own anaemic pallor. The reading in particular has been an issue of late, as younger sister refuses to try to sound out words, although she certainly can do it when she wants to. I don’t want to push her but am also aware that the further her sister leaps ahead with her learning the more reluctant younger daughter becomes to even try. I never had to help her sister to learn to read; she believed in herself, wanted to do it and relished it. But her sister’s probably thinking, ‘Why bother doing something when your sister can clearly do it better?’ Or at least that’s my latest theory on her assertions that ‘reading is boring’.
She loves books though – frankly I’d be demanding a maternity test if she didn’t - and asks me to read for her at least once a day. So we’ve been encouraging her, without pushing her, to take baby steps with simple words. Her teachers too have been trying to direct her attention away from the art room a bit – she wants to be artist or an art teacher and clearly feels at her best when drawing or gluing things - to show her that she can feel good about herself when organising letters as well as bits of coloured paper.
Well yesterday we had a major breakthrough. At school, she sounded out the words ‘pumpkin’ and ‘magnet’ and was thrilled with herself. Her teacher helped her make a little booklet of words tied together with a ribbon which she proudly brought home. But the real sign of success came when, totally unprompted, she said, ‘I like reading more than I like having a sister'. Can’t say I blame her. I suspect, that given the opportunity, I’d have felt the same way myself.


ireneintheworld said...

lovely picture jo; they look so like each other! x

Aidan said...

That's a relly great picture, they look very Irish.
There is fifteen months between my first two daughters (Irish twins one of my friends calls it) so we have the same scenario with them playing together without needing too much intervention. Luckily for number 2 she has a baby sister to dote over now so she is not the baby any more.
Do your girls go to international school or to a Norwegian school?

OSLO said...

Thanks Irene.
Aidan - I love 'Irish twins'.
They go to an international montessori preschool and an international school respectively. After much soul-searching last year, we decided to opt for an international school, having signed our eldest up for a local school, but realising that, as we expect to move next year, an English-language education would be best for them, if not the ideal for assimilating into a culture. So far, I've been very happy with the decision although it does mean I spend more time in the car than I'd like to :-)

Aidan said...

If you know you are going to move then the schooling decision is a bit more straightforward.
My brother lives in Holland too and his kids are going through the French system (his wife is French. We have opted for local schooling though so our life how our daughter is getting on at school through her third language is an issue that takes up a large space in my life. Thence my original question :-)

OSLO said...

I sympathise with dealing with a school that is in neither of your mother tongues. It certainly does make my life easier that my girls attend English schools (and learn most of their Norwegian from dubbed Hannah Montana, and even less Danish from their father :-))

Joanne Rasmussen said...

They are both so beautiful, Dark hair and blue eyes what more could a girl ask for?

itelli said...

According to the legend, when my parents told me I'm gonna have a sister, instead of a brother, I was crying for the rest of the day. According to the same legend, I asked whether the doctor can make my mother "well", so she delivers a baby brother instead.

Five-Browns said...

can relate on many levels to this post. Just yesterday I posted a pic that so pointed to the chalk and cheese personalities of my girls. I must say having a third (boy) has been pretty cool as he is often the "buffer" between the two!

OSLO said...

Apparently a girl can want yellow hair :-)
I hope you get on better with your sister now better than I do my brother
A buffer sounds good (as does cutting my elder daugheter's nails very very short and insisting her sister wears clothes even in this heatwave to avoid torso scratching incidents such we had last night).

beaverboosh said...

Gorgeous girls girl! I like reading better than my brother!

OSLO said...

Thanks BB. My brother doesn't read me so I can say the same without fear of reprisal.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

What beautiful children... gorgeous piccie.

Reading your latest post made me feel HOT HOT... it must be pushing 30 here today... I wish I had a paddling pool!

OSLO said...

Thank you Vanessa. The novelty has already worn off the paddling pool here and the temperature has dropped to a more comfortable 16 degrees (wed).