My youth was idyllic. My days were drama-free. It was so darned peaceful that Mr. Bluebird occasionally landed on my shoulder to whistle a cheerful tune. I never heard those words so frequently uttered by Country Squire station wagon driving dads on family roads trips: “DON’T make me pull this car over!” But my childhood was agreeable, not because I was the spawn of Ward and June Cleaver. It was not because I was the Perfect Child. It was calm for a singular reason – I was an Only Child.
But I needed a sibling. I wanted a Big Brother just like my two best friends. I begged my parents for a brother. Without spilling the beans on the birds and bees, they gently explained that this was never, ever going to happen. My six-year-old brain understood the word “no,” but not the underlying mechanics that prevented my plan from becoming a reality.
As a more worldly seven-year-old, I decided a baby sister would do.
As a second grader, I launched a full-scale Jack Abramoff-style lobbying effort to secure a sister. I created a grassroots campaign utilizing the alliances of friends with younger siblings to influence my parents. In a stroke of perfect timing the teacher asked the class to write a story about our family: the perfect opportunity for a journalistic expose of My Life With The World’s Most Unreasonable Parents. As I read my story out loud, I watched with joy as my teacher’s eyes widened in what I assumed was horror at the situation known as my family life. When she told me to stay behind at recess, I thought she would say, “You poor dear! I can’t fathom that you’re forced to live with such selfish parents who don’t understand your need for a baby sister. I’m calling them right now.”She called them all right.
But the conversation wasn’t quite what I had in mind. My work of complete fiction described an argument worthy of a visit from CPS. After my parents’ real ranting subsided, I made my last ditch effort as succinctly as I could.
“I just wanted a baby sister,” I said looking at my shoes, sniffling softly for maximum dramatic impact.
My parents had a change of heart and decided that I could use a little companionship. So they gave me a German Shepherd.
At that moment I vowed, I would never have just one child. One day, I would be The Not-So-Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. My imaginary brood would experience the joy of siblings.
Fast-forward thirty-two years.
There I stood with two kids in diapers. And I didn’t have a clue what to do other than schedule a tubal. At that moment, I was pretty sure taking care of a box full of German Shepherd puppies would have been easier.
Fast-forward seven more years.
That’s when the sibling fighting began in earnest. I somehow thought a crazed badger was trapped in the backseat gnawing on Younger Boy’s leg based on the ear-splitting volume. “HE’S LOOKING AT ME!” Younger Boy shrieked at a windshield shattering volume. “HE STARTED IT!” Older Boy screamed back.
Fast-forward nine months.
The fighting suddenly stopped. The troops, it appeared, had reached a truce. In a brotherly alliance, they sheepishly sidled up to the kitchen table where I sat. “Can we ask you for something?” Older Boy said. “We wanted one for a long time,” Younger Boy continued.
I gently explained that there would be no more babies.
They just stared at me.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mom,” Older Boy said. “But can we have a puppy?”