First there was The Boss. She sucked up undiluted attention for almost three years. The arrival of Number Two did little to alter our firstborn's theatrical bid for the eye of everyone around her. I could almost see the thought bubble swirling around her blond, straight-haired head: "If I ignore him, it's like he doesn't even exist!"
It's been three more years. The Boss has been a sibling for half her life but she won't admit it. She is only now beginning to accept her brother's existence as a little playmate, a little laugher, a little stealer and pooper and parrot.
There was a form to fill out yesterday that asked for my children's ages. "3 and 5," I wrote. 3 and 5? I thought. Is that all there is between them? Well, not really. There's only a two month span during which their ages will indicate such closeness. Come July, and The Boss's 6th birthday, they will spread out again. 3 and 6. Two years and nine months simplified. Distance.
Last night The Partner and I huddled at the bottom of the stairs, trying to go unnoticed, as The Boss told a story to Number Two up on the second floor. Using the illustrations from a Clifford's Puppy Days book as her guide, she wove a personalized tale for her brother. Number Two chortled in all the right places. I heard him flop around. This one-on-one time with his sister-hero was a shock to each extremity. He listened with spastic glee.
Soon enough three years won't mean much. It will be like there's no distance at all; like there never was. But right now three years divides The Boss's life in two. Three years is Number Two's entire existence. Right here, right now--this is where they meet in the middle.
Number Two sneaks up behind The Boss and throws his tiny arms around her waist. He laughs maniacally. The Boss tries to shake him off. Then she begins to run, dragging his red-Kedded feet behind her.
"Mo-om! Da-ad! Get him off me!" It's a half-laugh, half-scream. "I can't get him to let go!"
I cross my arms and lean back against the kitchen counter. The Partner settles in beside me. We're both smiling.