The Order of the Sister and Brother
Ivy is getting tall and her feet are size 11. Her favorite shoe stores only sell shoes as large as size 10 and the fear that she cannot wear the same style shoes as her friends wear reduces her to tears. She has even outgrown her socks. Every few days, there is a pile of girls’ clothing dumped on my bed that she can no longer wear. When I look at her, I am taken aback by the long slender young woman as opposed to the sturdy, average height clone of myself that I expected. Ivy has become so tall, she has outgrown her bed.
A heavy carved wood bed with a walnut design carved into the headboard and foot board was purchased for my grandmother when she was a little girl. My mother slept in this bed until she married. I slept in this bed until I moved out of my parents’ home. The headboard and foot board are heavy and curve around the mattress leaving no opening for long legs to hang over the edge. Ivy needs a new bed. As a temporary solution, she is using a queen-size airbed which has a tendency to lose air from a hole we cannot find.
Each night, Ivy uses a billows pump to firm up her mattress. One evening, she asks me for help with her bed. As always, I am tired and have many things to do and I tell her to ask one of her brothers for help. I am nearby and can hear everything. She hollers: “DANIEL!” in a loud demanding tone. Daniel is nearby, he responds immediately, not of fear, or obedience, but of curiosity. Ivy has never requested his assistance.
“Come in here,” Ivy commands Daniel, as he stands in the hall waiting for orders. “You want me to come in your room?” Daniel has never dared enter Ivy’s room which is not more than eight feet from his own room. “Yes, get in here, and put your foot here.” Ivy points to the billows attached to the air pump. “Now, move your foot up and down, fast”. I can hear the billows moving air and the squeak as Daniel pumps with his foot. “You have a bird? This is a cool room. Is that a CD changer? I’ve never seen so many earrings or beanie babies.” Daniel prattles on and on. “Shut up, and don’t touch anything, Ivy snaps back. “Pump harder!” Ivy orders. Daniel complies and pumps more silently. “OK, you’re done, now get out.” Daniel leaves, chattering about Ivy’s room.
I do not say anything about Ivy’s harsh treatment of Daniel who helped her without question but I am alarmed at her behavior. She was mean and ungrateful. I tell the boys' CASA worker about Ivy's rudeness. Kate, the CASA worker has grown children and many years of experience in sibling relationships. I share my concerns. She tells me: “Don’t do or say anything, teenage girls are gruff with their younger brothers. Daniel knows exactly where he stands, and he is probably very comfortable with it.”