I’d been a single child for four years when my parents asked if I wanted a sibling. A year passed and my five-year-old mind filled with hopes of being a responsible older sibling – bringing them everywhere with me, introducing them to my favourite foods, basically teaching them the basics of life. Another year passed before my sister was actually born, and by then, life had begun to beat my saccharine dreams down to more realistic opinions.
In many ways, I grew up too fast. At six years old, I had begun to make real friends, started to understand the first inklings of responsibility and self-discipline, and become more independent. At six years old, I thought having a baby sister meant I had to grow up for her, be more mature, and stop being a handful for my parents so they could give her their undivided attention.
Six years itself is an awkward age gap between siblings. The fact that I tried my best to grow up didn’t help – many times, I only grew irritated at how I couldn’t understand or tolerate her; many times, I grew out of a phase before she had even gotten into it. But despite all that “growing up”, I never grew out of the phase of misunderstanding her (and this is one of the things I love so much about my sister: despite growing up with me, she never picked up my inability to empathise or be compassionate). I chalked up all our differences to the bad timing we had, to the unfortunate six years between us.
Even now, my parents buy us the same things so they won’t be unfair to us, but still, there are so many things I had that she doesn’t. Likewise, there are so many things she has that I don’t. When I was four, my dad would always get off work early and pick me up from kindergarten, occasionally bringing egg waffles. When my sister was four, all she got was me, sometimes with a lollipop because that was all I could afford.
Another six years passed and I was still picking her up from school, but the burning desire to spend more time with my friends and the nagging envy of my friends’ lack of responsibilities to their non-existent siblings eventually left her to return home alone. I completely abandoned my five-year-old dreams of picking her up with egg waffles, until the other day when I brought her to get after-school snacks with me. We ended up getting traditional Chinese dessert and cheese egg waffles, which are two foods that’ve recently been hand-picked into her exclusive ‘edibles’ list.
Life is really funny that way – you never get what you ask for. I asked for blissful, peachy days of picking my baby sister up from kindergarten. I got dark days of picking up a (bratty) 10 year old. I asked for egg waffles to bring to my sister. I got picking up cheese egg waffles together after school. It’s not that I’m complaining… I’m just slightly perplexed at, and grateful for, how things turned out.
Sometimes, it’s better late than never (even if it did take six plus two years).