NOTE: This post was originally written in 2014
“Mom, where’s my beanie?” My almost-twelve-year-old sister demanded. “I want to be intimidating.”
I stared at her, amused and mortified at the same time. I’d been tentatively dating someone for a couple weeks and recently acknowledged that, yes, it was actually dating. Not just maybe-kind-of-sort-of-quasi-dating. Shannon, in all her righteous indignation, filled the empty station of Protective Older Brother from her spot as Youngest Child. So she grilled me for all the details every time I came back late . Sometimes she would sit on me until I satisfied her curiosity.
When I mentioned my date would be coming over for a short time, she immediately began gearing up for battle. She started with a beanie.
I would have dismissed it if Shannon hadn’t asked Bonnie if she had a leather belt to borrow.
Clearing my throat for Shannon’s attention, I warned her, “For every piece of clothing you put on to intimidate I’m going to add a piece of jewelry. Or perfume. And maybe even do my hair.”
The look of horror on her face was priceless.
“Bonnie!” she shouted. “Do you have a leather jacket??”
By the time she’d donned the leather belt, beanie, and shoved a pair of scissors into her belt, I had put on a necklace, perfume and borrowed Bonnie’s nice earrings.
Bonnie, of course, was lending out whatever she could, egging us both on and enjoying it.
We finally came to an uneasy truce when I relinquished the necklace, and she stopped adding battle gear. Still, the fact that I discarded a scarf in favor of it not matching my shirt drew even more shock from her.
“You’ve reached the stage where you care about what you look!” she accused.
When my date, Sergey, finally came over, Shannon took up her post about two inches away. She was alternately staring at me and giving him death glares until I insisted on a level of personal space.
True, a great deal of this was played up for laughs. My entire family smells of ham to high heaven. There isn’t a single one of us that can’t pull a good drama queen or king routine at a moment’s notice. But there is some serious worry in there on her part.
The three of us O’Connor sisters have formed a sort of protective circle for each other. There is no real downward order, in spite of my status as Oldest Child. We look after each other equally, whether because of—or in spite of—our major age gaps. Still, I sometimes wonder how to explain to Shannon in a way that will set her at ease that she’ll never lose my love. But she has to let go a little. Odd thing for an Oldest to have to say to a Youngest, but it is how it is.
And until Shannon stops sharpening her darts in his presence when she thinks I’m not looking, I’m going to have to keep a close eye on her.