I can still remember the day I discovered that my sons were going to have a little sister. Being a ‘geriatric mum’ (oh how I loved that term) I was strongly advised to have an amniocentesis and although it is right up there on my list of top ten least favourite experiences of my life to date, one advantage was that they could tell you afterwards what the sex of the baby was. I left the hospital determined not to find out, knowing full well it would be a boy anyway. But overnight it gnawed away at me and before I knew it, I was on the phone asking what it was. When she said a girl, I had to sit down. “Are you sure?” I couldn’t quite believe it. “Are you definitely sure?” The nurse must have thought that the pregnancy hormones were affecting my sanity. “Yes, quite sure.”
So there it was, I was growing a girl. I didn’t do girls. What would that be like? Soon enough, I was stereotyping with the best of them, filling the remaining weeks of my pregnancy buying everything pink and feminine.
Pink and feminine are no longer words I would necessarily associate with my daughter now. She is eight and a half (and the half is so very important when you are young). She still has a feminine edge but she is far from the ‘girly girl’ that she was a few years ago. Long gone are the pink clothes, in fact, her favourite colour is now blue. The beautiful dresses have slowly been replaced by leggings and tops, trousers, shorts. She will wear dresses and skirts but much prefers clothes she is comfortable in and that she can do things in.
Feisty is a word I would use. Determined is another and so independent, she puts her two older brothers to shame. Unlike them, she will do everything pretty much for herself, she is willing to help, not because I expect her to but because she wants to.
I have noticed a real attitude of late. I think that comes partly from her age but mostly from being a little sister. Her brothers are that much older than her that she puts up with a lot from them. They love her, of course, they do, but being teen and nearly teen, they are not what I would call tolerant. They tease her endlessly about pretty much anything and everything when they get the opportunity, they call her a baby and tell her off for the silliest things.
She let slip that she liked a boy in her class the other day and the endless questions and teasing that followed made me sorry that she had said anything. The irony being that when that fateful day comes when she does bring a boyfriend home, I’ve no doubt that the big brothers will be all too keen to step in and protect their little sister then.
She has had to live with one brother suffering from anxiety-driven mood swings and she just watches quietly and will tell me afterwards that he is just being him and she shrugs it off. In fact, she will sometimes be the one to comfort me when I find those bad days hard.
She seems to take it all in her stride. She does talk a lot, she follows her dad for that, but she never says that being a little sister bothers her. She will occasionally say that she hates one or two of her brothers but most of the time, they deserve it. That is normal sibling behaviour. They bicker and argue but she now gives as good as she gets and has been known to throw the odd thing at them.
I know that worrying is a normal parenting condition but I do worry sometimes that maybe her relationship with her brothers has a negative effect, that maybe they do really upset her and she doesn’t let me know. But the reality is that being a little sister has made her a tough little cookie. She will stand up for herself and tell people what for. She isn’t easily intimidated and I think these are skills that will hopefully help her in later life. She is very much her own person and she does what she wants regardless of her brother’s opinions and I admire that in her. But she adores her brothers, no matter how much they tease her, no matter how cross they make her, she will always adore them and I think she likes being a little sister for all its ups and downs.