12/18/07

A Telling Question

The Ritzemas traveled down to our house for a mini-Christmas gift exchange on Sunday. Very nice. The girls received super cute holiday shirts, and I got Japanese cherry blossom shower gel and body lotion from Bath and Body Works. Extra nice.

Now, on our wall hangs a framed poster from the movie Alien, almost exactly like this one. I don't believe Calvin has ever remarked on it before, but during this visit he was full of questions. "Why is that egg glowing?" "But why is it a bad egg?" "What kind of scary movie?"

Because Juliette and Ilsa have asked similar questions about the same poster, and because they even know which DVD matches it, they were able to field most of Calvin's concerns. They even recommended an appropriate age for viewing: 20 years old (theirs, not mine--I watched it when I was twelve). But then Juliette struck on an interesting observation. She asked, "Do you wait until nighttime to watch it?" Or maybe that was Calvin. I forget. But I like the idea of the three of them actively trying to figure out the logistics of when and how such a movie could be viewed within the confines of our family set-up.

Later that night, the whole discussion must have remained on Juliette's mind. She asked, "How do you and daddy decide what movie to watch?" Keven and I looked at each other and shrugged. We just do. Which movie to watch is rarely a subject for debate, primarily because our taste in movies and television is almost exactly the same. If she had asked the same question regarding how we listen to music over long car trips, that would have been a different answer: judicious taking of turns, veto power, and occasional sulking.

But this got me thinking about how Juliette and Ilsa must view the world. When they want to watch a show, they must negotiate the choppy waters of permission from us (not so hard) and the competition they face from each other (much more difficult). Between my daughters there is no harmonious meeting of the minds, and there is very rarely spontaneous agreement. They compete on almost every level--not because they are mean or greedy, but because they are young and they are siblings. Siblings compete for everything, first and foremost their parents' attention.

In Juliette's world, she cannot imagine the relationship Keven and I have, one of compromise between two people actively trying to achieve the greatest good for both. It's outside her comprehension, possibly because the nuances are invisible to her.

When she asked that question, I wanted to say, "Because we're married." We got married for a reason (well, many reasons, but that's beside the point)--because we DO agree on tiny things like which movie to watch. And the big things too. I found myself hoping that one day she finds such a partnership, and that competition remains an exclusive domain she wrangles with her sister...just somewhere else...like, in another room at the very least.

I hate my sister. She's such a bitch.
She acts as if she doesn't even know that I exist.
I love my sister. She's the best.
She's cooler than any other girl that I have ever met.
"
My Sister" by Juliana Hatfield

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