It's been little more than a year since Ben and Juliette went to Ohio for the weekend, leaving a not-yet-two-year-old Genevieve and me on our own. I was anxious about it because Genevieve was the slightest bit exasperating to me at the time.
Her favorite crime was to grab big fistfuls of her sister's hair and pull as hard as she could. Juliette would scream, I would frantically pry her fingers away, and without fail, every time I released one hand and went to work on the other, she'd grab another fistful and yank even harder. And it happened every single day.
So when the other parent and the easier kid took off for a few days, I felt a bit uneasy. And then something amazing happened: Genevieve was delightful. She didn't pull hair (her preferred head of hair was out of state). She didn't have fits. She didn't so much as smack the cats.
I realized something I probably should have already known about younger sisters. We've never existed without our siblings. We've always lived in relation to them. If Juliette had been a little sister when she was a toddler, I'm sure she would have staged her own shenanigans.
That weekend was a huge turning point for Genevieve. I'm sure it had a bit to do with her natural development; she was going to grow out of the hair pulling sooner or later. But I'm also sure it had a bit to do with my own softer heart. I regarded my daughter differently after those days alone. I'd always loved her, but I hadn't always given her the patience and understanding she deserved.
She is so different than her sister. She has been since the day she was born. And oddly enough, this took me some getting used to. As simple as it sounds, I'm so glad that Juliette is Juliette and Genevieve is Genevieve. They are both marvelous kids, just marvelous in different ways. And that is, well - marvelous.
A Genevieve moment from tonight, for the permanent record: I've always tossed out the line, "the kitchen is closed" when my children want post-dinner snacks. Juliette accepts this as gospel. If Mama says the kitchen is closed, the kitchen is closed. Tonight I denied Genevieve a bedtime snack with my classic line, to which she responded with a long discourse about how the kitchen was not closed. After all, it doesn't have a door, Mama.
Oh, Genevieve. I love you so.
Posted by Katherine Willis Pershey