family

Close to Christopher Robin

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I was 5 years old when my younger sister was born, and I cannot begin to tell you how disappointed I was.

She was supposed to be a boy. Mom and I had many serious conversations at naptime over this, and as far as I was concerned, it was a done deal. She was having a boy, and he was going to be named Christopher Robin. Though the eldest sibling in our family is a boy, he was followed by 3 girls in close succession, and I’m pretty sure I was not the only one who was looking for another boy to grace our family circle. And who would NOT want to call their son Christopher Robin, I ask you?

The night Mom went into labour, we were all 4 farmed off to Aunt Mary’s house for the night. I remember being small enough to climb into under stairs cupboards and under beds with my siblings and friends, shining flashlights onto the darkened ceiling and terrifying one another with scary hand shadows and spooky stories. Ah, those were the days.

The world of a 5-year-old is a fascinating place. I try to remember this with my own 5-year-old grandson when his imagination has him redecorating my living room, transforming oversized packing boxes and sofa cushions into rocket ships as he sets sail for the moon with his brother, bound to return in time for dinner.

When Mom brought my baby sister home, I remember specifically peering over the edge of the wicker bassinette at the pretty, pink and white infant swaddled in a snowy blanket, sound asleep atop a yellow flannel sheet. “Her name is Bethany Sue,” Mom said gently, knowing how disappointed I was. I was 5. I am pretty sure I made a face. This was not how it was supposed to be!

As the years passed, it is a memory that stuck with me. It took me a very long time to be pleased about having a baby sister. She and I were alike in so many ways it was scary – like we twins separated by 5 years, yet without the initial close bond that should have existed had we actually been twins.

I was good at art, she was good at art. No sketch pad was safe from her “completing” my drawings. I howled at the injustice of it all, which only landed me in trouble. Every time. She has, incidentally, gone on to become a rather noted artist in her own right. I consider myself well and truly eclipsed!

I excelled at music, she excelled at music. When we sang together, it was hard to tell where one of us ended and the other began. (In this, I quite possibly have the upper hand, having made it my chosen field of study. In a family of songbirds, I am ever the harmonist.)

I was a drama queen, she was a drama queen. She qualified for nationals in dramatic interp – in this, I have to say, she far outdid me, and by the time she won it, I was in college and was, believe it or not, very happy for her.

We even looked a bit alike…

Over the years, we have become very close and I love her beyond words. Beth is the funniest person I know or ever shall.

Sometimes our “sameness,” is truly creepy. When she came to visit me here in England, I was on a rant about how I did NOT like Celine Dion’s music AT ALL (it was the 90s – I was Celine-d out). I started my sentence with, “Celine Dion is like…”

And at the exact same time, in exactly the same tone, we both said, “…A FEMALE BARRY MANILOW.” Queen of the overblown ending.

You’ve got to admit, that is kind of weird.

Me and Bethy

My beautiful sister and me at the rehearsal dinner for my son’s wedding.

When my own son was born in 1988, my husband and I named him as we saw fit. If I’m honest, I will admit it was the only name we could agree on without fighting! But it was not until our son was about 5 that it occurred to me I had got my way in some Freudian manner.

We had called our son Christian Robert.

It was about as close to Christopher Robin as it gets in real life.

Mother Hen

feature photo: Shutterstock

Originally published by motherhendiaries 17 March 2014

© motherhendiaries 2014 all rights reserved

18 replies »

  1. Too bad we can’t recapture that five-year-old imagination. But I do try. When reading my posts, remember that this is by someone who is going through his second childhood and hasn’t made it quite to five.

    I think you were talking to the wrong person. If I remember correctly, it was your dad who was responsible for the sex of your sister. Too bad that Anne Boleyn didn’t have this little detail. She could have saved herself a head.

    By the way, two lovely ladies. You do each other proud. But I think you have insulted Barry Manilow. At least, he knows how to write jingles. And he was a backup singer for Bette Midler before he went solo. Don’t think Celine Dion can say that.

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    • Thank you for the kind compliments, Don! You are too kind. I am pleased to look like my sister – she’s a proper knockout, if you ask me! Yes, it is true the man determines the sex. Sadly, he has very (very) little say in the matter either – ha! Plus, I can’t imagine a megalomaniac like Henry VIII would have fessed up to his own contributory errors! 😮 eeek!
      Barry has never been a favourite, to be honest. But I did know he used to play keyboards for Bette, which always made him pretty ok in my books. Both he and Celine are truly guilty of the overblown ending, but I know they have their redeeming qualities for sure. 🙂

      Truthfully, my Inner Whitney Houston has taken a trip or 2 on the Titanic on karaoke night. I ain’t gonna lie. Colour me a hypocrite…

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    • Thank you, Theresa! How kind of you to say so. It is a favourite story of mine, though I do feel a bit sorry for my little sis having had me as the evil elder twin all her life. I didn’t start cutting her much slack until I was in my late teens. Poor girl! 🙂 She’s an absolute riot… I wish she blogged, because she is crazy funny.

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