Sibling symbiosis

As parents living in a digital age, many of us have thousands of pictures of our kids. 

But among those many images, certain photos stand out — signature shots that somehow speak perfectly to how we remember our kids in certain stages. 

They transport us back in time. I have several photos like this, and I can get lost in them if I look closely.

There’s my daughter at 18 months (angry in every picture taken by a special photographer we hired); another shows my son at 4, absolutely ecstatic, wearing his Sunday best for Easter. 

And then there are the photos of the two of them together: Siblings. 

One (above, left) shows my baby girl, wearing a big hat and resting in the crook of her big brother’s arm. 

His goofy grin seems to say: This is my little sister. She looks almost solemn, but appears to feel safe and sound.

This, of course was only the beginning of their lifelong relationship. And it was a new phase for us as parents: When a second baby comes along, it’s hard to grasp how you’ll ever manage another child or how your family’s dynamics will change. 

But things just evolve, naturally: There are times that one child needs you more than the other — or neither of them need you at all because they’ve found each other. 

On the flipside, there are those times you feel one is too much to handle, and the other follows suit and becomes even more impossible than the first. 

They easily learn how to argue with one another. 

When they’re babies and toddlers, this may come in the form of screaming and crying, of course.

Every parent I know says there’s a one-of-a-kind special cry that only a sibling can inspire. 

My daughter had a special happy squeal and bounce that was only for her brother. Now that they’re older, however — 11 and 14 — things have evolved again.

Where’s my playmate gone?

As a teen, my son has hit that stage where he comes home and the door to his room closes. 

I’ve found my daughter roaming the house, bored and agitated because her playmate is gone. 

I feel sad for her, because she knows he’s growing up.

Having been in his shoes as an older teen sibling myself, I know he needs his space. 

I gently urge her to give him time, and I urge my son to pay attention to her once in a while. 

I want them to be able to confide in one another, to have another support besides their parents as they grow into adults. 

But I often see more nitpicking about  who fed the dog last. 

Tween-teen connection

Then they surprise me: There will be moments when he’s home before she is, waiting for her to jump on the trampoline with him. 

They also have a special thing they do: He airplanes her like I did with them when they were babies. Inevitably, they thud heavily on the ground, their growing-up bodies way too big to be playing inside like that. 

As they giggle and talk over each other, my eyes catch the recent photo of them on the wall (above, right). 

She’s tucked into the crook of her big brother’s arm. He’s smiling goofily as if to say: This is my kid sister. And she’s smiling, too, because she feels safe. 

I want to tell her it’s going to be OK:

He isn’t going anywhere. 

But the way they look at each other sometimes, I think she knows it already.


Jennifer Wizbowski lives in Excelsior. Write her at jwizbowski@mnparent.com.