Every morning the kids wake up way earlier than they have to. Then, for two full hours, they chase their tails until the five minutes before they have to leave for the bus when they scramble to find shoes and jackets.
We have a checklist, we have alarms, we have reminders. And yet almost every day we’re half-jogging down the street looking over our shoulder to see if the bus is going to beat us to the bus stop.
Honestly, I think the problem is that we have too much time. It’s easy to get off track when the schedule isn’t very tight.
The only person who seems to have a handle on the morning routine is Anna. She wakes up, eats her breakfast, and when my first alarm goes off, her head pops up from whatever she’s doing and she says “OH NO!” then toddles to the garage.
When we get home from dropping off the big kids, she begins the second half of her morning routine: destroying whatever Mary was doing.
Anna has figured out at a very young age that once Mary is on the bus, she gets free rein on all of her stuff.
Anna wearing Mary’s hand me down pajamas, playing with Mary’s lip gloss.
If Mary was setting up a classroom or a restaurant or a hospital, Anna Godzillas her way through it as soon as the coast is clear.
She rifles through Mary’s jewelry box, drags around her American Girl doll, and, if given the opportunity, she’ll sink her entire hand into Mary’s hair cream.
I don’t blame her. In fact, I get it. I’m a little sister, too.
When I was in middle school I hung a giant poster of Green Day over my bed because my sister said the lead singer was cute. I didn’t think Billie Joe was cute at all, and I used to squint to try to see what she was talking about. But regardless of my opinion, my sister had declared it, so it must be true.
Mary is furious when Anna has disrupts her stuff. And honestly, I get that, too. Anna isn’t subtle with her meddling. (Which is completely unlike me as a little sister. I was always respectful and put everything back neatly after stretching, staining, breaking, misplacing, etc.)
Mary gets frustrated when Anna gets into her stuff, but she’s also an incredible big sister. She takes her to her playhouse, helps her with her shoes, and the most important thing — she is Anna’s cheerleader. When Anna is proud of the mermaid on her shirt, Mary matches her enthusiasm. When Anna figures out how to put on her backpack, Mary throws her hands up in excitement. No one celebrates Anna like Mary does.
They are so lucky to have each other.
One Saturday, when Mary made a fort, Anna crawled in. I watched them as they snuggled and giggled. When Mary pulled the covers up to her chin, Anna copied her. And when Mary flopped back on her pillow, Anna did the same thing. This imitation, it’s what little sisters do.
One day Anna will teach her friends to shave their legs inappropriately early. And I will have to apologize to their mothers and explain, “She has an older sister.”