How to Raise Loving Siblings?, Part III
3. Use the plural, not singular. For my parents, it was always “both of you” plural and not “you” singular. (In Russian we have singular and plural forms of the pronoun “you.”) Whenever one of us messed up in any way, both were blamed. Even today, my mother always says automatically,
“Your sister and you never listen to my advice on how to feed the baby!”
I’m not the one with the baby, my sister is. I haven’t fed any babies for over two decades. For my mother, however, it is impossible to single out one of us as being in the wrong.
In childhood, if one of us got a bad grade (which, in our family, was anything lower than an A), both were condemned as horrible students who’d end up in the gutter.
“Mom,” I’d say indignantly, “Molly is the one who got a B. I’m a straight A student. Why are you yelling at me?”
“Yes? And what have you done to help her not get the B? Huh? Both of you are disappointing me right now!”
People are always horrified to hear that we would both be punished for the mistakes of one of us. “But that is so unfair!” they say. “Why should a person be punished for what somebody else did?”
I strongly believe, however, that it was a brilliant strategy. Those childhood punishments seem so unimportant today when compared to the kind of solidarity that it created between us. Today, Molly and I lead very different lives. I have a lot more degrees but she makes a lot more money. She has her own thriving business but I have a lot of free time. She has many friends but I have a popular blog. I’m married, she isn’t. I’m childless, she is not. I weigh a lot more than she has. She can drive but I can’t. I’m autistic, and she is the epitome of NT. However, none of these differences have ever caused any kind of competitiveness between us. Since childhood, we saw each other as a team. It was never me versus her, but, rather, us against the world.
And that, I believe, is beautiful.