Sunday, April 27, 2014

Maybe I'm doing something right



Sometimes the smallest comments can blow you away. That's one reason you can't blink for a minute as a parent. If you let your mind wander, you miss the gems that reassure you that you must be doing something right.

Marcel will be 17 in a few months, Charlotte is two years and five months younger. By all accounts they should be at that very age where they can barely stand the sight of each other.

Instead they often return from a friend's house puzzled by their friend's conduct towards a younger or older sibling - the snide comments, the ignoring, the pushing, poking, and all the petty one-upmanship.

My two have a solidarity that is wonderful to watch. Of course, it was in part borne out of watching out for each other at their father's house when they still had a relationship with him. They only had each other to talk to about their experiences there and that meant dropping the sibling rivalry. Still two years have passed since that issue was resolved and their bond has become closer, not weaker. They are often found laughing together. Marcel advises Lots on high school etiquette, on studies and just generally gets joy from her company. And she listens to him, trusting. She cares how he's doing and strives to emulate him and his achievements. Because it was Charlotte who ultimately solved the issue of their father, there is a great deal of respect from Marcel towards her. He defers to her in a way that underlines his gratitude and a certain awe in her silent strength of character. It isn't something you often see from older to younger - not when they are as young as this. They've probably been through a bit more than many of their contemporaries with our divorce, the breakdown in the relationship with their other family and my dad's long illness and those things have made them closer than teenage siblings often are.

So what inspired this? Charlotte came in yesterday with a form from school. She cast it nonchalantly onto the dining table muttering that they were running a French school trip to Paris next summer but at nearly £700 she had already worked out that there would be no point in discussing it. When you are self-employed and have five kids £700 is more like the annual family holiday budget, than the school trip budget. Desperately sad, as I always am to deny them what would be lifelong and wonderful memories, I started to agree with her when Marcel looked up from his dinner and said, completely genuinely 'If there's anything I can do to help - I could, like, give her all my earnings from my job for a month or something if that'd help?' How many 16 year old boys would work every Monday, Wednesday, Friday night and every Sunday morning from 5am in a shop and then offer to give up all their earnings to try to pay for their 14 year old sister to go on a school trip - no strings attached? His generosity, his selflessness and his love just blew me away. Of course, it might not get her to Paris, but it melted my heart a little, that's for sure.

I am one proud mummy.

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