My parents have this running joke that if they had me first, I would have been their only child. Like with any good joke, it includes quirky details like, “Her sister slept through the night from the moment we brought her home. Hell, she might not even have woken up during the delivery! But this one, ” my father would say, gesturing at me with his thumb like he’s trying to hitch a ride, “This one hasn’t had a good night’s sleep since the Carter administration.”
I’m only mildly bothered by these comments since, really, did anyone sleep well during the Carter administration?
And, he’s not all together wrong – not just about the sleeping situation, but more generally that my sister and I couldn’t be more different. If there wasn’t such a strong physical resemblance, one could reasonably assume switched-at-birth scenarios that, once uncovered, could result in a book deal, followed by a wildly successful Lifetime movie, leading to a heartwarming weekly series on ABC Family. But, alas, it would seem we do share the necessary DNA to be considered sisters.Why is it then that we experience the world so differently?
My sister grew up on a steady diet of pastels, lace, and paper dolls. I was earth tones and corduroy. The most fun I had with paper dolls was when I was seven and locked myself in the bathroom with my mother’s Bic lighter and an assortment of Holly Hobbie’s patchwork dresses and paper bonnets. Burn, baby, burn.
My sister happily believed whatever she was told; I questioned everything. Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Santa Claus? My sister fell for every one of them. She probably thinks we really landed on the moon too.
I never believed in the Tooth Fairy, but I understood fee-for-service at an early age, so was happy to oblige. Not that I completely understood what she wanted the teeth for in the first place. Some strange craft project, I imagine, involving elbow macaroni and pipe cleaners. It’s one of those questions in life that could go unanswered.
That anyone believed in the Easter Bunny is as odd as how many people think Justin Bieber is well-adjusted. I know I’m not the first one to point this out, and I get that the Easter Chicken has zero sex appeal, but a bunny with eggs? Let’s just say I’m not a “Belieber”.
Santa Claus has to be my sister’s favorite though; so imagine the depths of her despair when I combined my early onset reading skills with our freshly delivered ‘S’ volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica. The historical myth of the big guy in red was revealed, unleashing a sea of tears and emotion. “Mommy and Daddy were right! You should have been an only child,” she said, charging at me as I sat smugly in the beanbag chair.
At least she got one thing right.