My sisters are coming to spend Christmas and New Years with us, and they arrive...TOMORROW.
I have a very close family, and if you can believe this I have never in all of my twenty-nine years not spent Christmas with Mom, Dad, Meg, and Ais. It is going to be a little weird not being able to spend Christmas with Mom and Dad, but I am so thankful that my two very best BFF's in the whole world will be here. And in anticipation of their arrival, I thought I would share a little story from our childhoods that will make you truly appreciate all the dynamics of a sibling relationship.
I started babysitting when I was in grade seven. I used to babysit one family every day after school, and then on week nights and on weekends I was often babysitting. During the summer I had two steady gigs that kept me busy forty hours a week, and then yes--I continued to babysit in the evenings and on weekends. I had a little day planner that I kept track of all my jobs in, and it got to the point where people would have to call me a few weeks in advance if they wanted to secure my services. That's when I knew I had all the power, so I started getting choosy about who I would sit for and I upped my rates.
I cornered the market on babysitting in my subdivision and the reason was because I was a totally kick-ass babysitter. If I'd been a kid, I would have wanted me to babysit me: I knew loads of fun games, I stretched the bed time rules, and I didn't care if they ate the junk food out of the cupboard (within reason). If they had homework to do I made sure they did it, fighting wasn't allowed, but beyond that my motto was 'I'm not the parent'. Sure some of the parents minded when they walked in the front door and heard the scampering of little feet off to bed, but honestly 98% of them didn't because when they came home at the end of the night, their kids were (a) still alive; and (b) happy. They had fun!
As a result of all the hours I logged, I became by default the richest kid my sisters knew. In fact, my sisters could regularly be found on their haunches digging through the trash can in my bedroom because I used to throw away any change below a quarter. Gah! Can you believe it?! Now if I find a dime in my jacket I'm all, 'Huzzah! This is going in the change jar.'
Now, you might think my cavalier attitude towards small change meant I didn't understand the value of a dollar, except you'd be (partially) mistaken. I was quite aware of how much it cost me to save up for those CK shirts, and Archie comics, and VHS movies, and CDs, so I became a bit of a shrewed business...ah...kid. Or, as some might have actually wanted to label me: an employer of sweat shop labour.
My two sisters who were ten and seven respectively, had a Money Club. Otherwise known as a How Do We Get Enough Money So We Can Go To Frank's On Friday Night To Get Chips And Candy Club. Every week my sisters would meet in their room and do a detailed accounting of the money in the Money Club jar, then they would tally how much they were short for chips and candy and start to get desperate. This is when I, like a shark that smells blood, would zero in on my prey.
Being the older sibling, I was the first to learn how to hone in on my sisters' weaknesses and then exploit those weaknesses to my benefit. And when they were ten and seven, their all consuming concern was 'How Do We Get Candy?'
Now while I was a very diligent and responsible kid, I really sucked at keeping my room clean. In fact, to be accurate I absolutely loathed keeping my room orderly. HATED IT. I can remember one time when I was about eight, my mom told me that I had to make my bed before I was allowed to go outside and play. I proceeded to spend the rest of my Saturday lying in a crumpled ball on my bedroom floor sobbing over the injustice of having to make my bed before I could go play. Mom won the battle, but I fought the good fight on behalf of kids everywhere until I realized I was ending up the looser because it was getting to be afternoon and I only had so much time left to play before supper.
Keeping my room clean was definitely a childhood challenge, but that all changed the day I learned I had disposable (literally) income and that I could pay other people to clean my room for me. So as my two dear little towheaded siblings sat on the floor of Meg's bedroom and agonized that the Money Club was short a dollar to get their Friday night chips and candy, I stepped in wearing my 'big sister superhero' cape and told my sweet trusting sisters:
'Hey! I know where you can get a dollar!'
Well, those are the most powerful words in any kid's world. My sisters stared up at me like I was Moses carrying the Ten Commandments; like I had just turned water into cola; like I had my very own cotton candy machine. Quite simply: I. Was. Amazing.
'Where?! Where?! We've already gone through all of Mom and Dad's pockets. How do we get a dollar?"
'If you guys clean my room...I will pay you a dollar.'
My sisters flew up like bottle rockets: Meg ran to get the vacuum, Ais went to get the dusting materials, and I went to the living room to lounge on the couch and read Archie comics as they solved that dull housekeeping task for me.
About an hour later, Meg breathlessly came to find me and told me that they'd finished cleaning my room. Slowly and deliberately I laid aside my Archie comic, I got to my feet and I proceeded to the bedroom to examine their cleaning job. Well my goodness. They didn't just clean my room, they Mr. Cleaned my room. It was absolutely spotless. I couldn't recall it ever having been so clean; there were no wrappers lying around, all my clothes were in the hamper or folded and put away, the carpet didn't have sawdust debris from my hamster all over the place, and my bed was perfectly made.
I walked around and tried to contain my surprise at just how above and beyond they went, while Meg and Ais stood in the doorway beaming like little cherubs. After my inspection, I reached into my pocket and bestowed upon them one round loonie.
Just one loonie.
One lonely dollar between two people for over an hours worth of labour.
Not a penny more.
(Heh, I'd never approved their overtime.)
Ais wrapped her fist around that golden disc--that key to Friday night feasting--and with genuine cries of 'Thank-you Caitie! Thank-you!' they ran off laughing with glee to get their bikes so that we could all bike down to Frank's Corner Store, get our treats, and then go home and watch TGIF.
You may all think that I felt remorse for having taken fiscal advantage of them, but you'd be wrong. My room had never been cleaner! For a solid three months they cleaned my room every week for a dollar, until they started to realize I was a slob and then they demanded more money to clean up my messes.
Little angels. They were learning the ways of the world.
So that's when I paid them each one dollar to continue their supreme cleans of my room, and that's when they felt like the richest kids in all the land: one dollar each and the small change out of my trash can! That guaranteed they'd never go another Friday without getting their sugar hit.
What more could a kid ask for?
Not much, actually. Not much.