Just the Right Size

I’m short. On a good day, I may reach 5’2”. When I’m in front of a classroom, I usually have on three inch heels. But you’d never know how short I am unless you stand next to me. I give off that assertive alpha vibe that says you probably shouldn’t stand next to me.

Sissy will probably be short, too. It’s hard to fight genetics. She comes from a long line of short, bossy Sicilian women. At least she’ll be able to cook. When Sissy was little, people would say thoughtless things like “Look at little you!” and “Oh, you’re so tiny! Are your bones hollow?” (I’ve found that we like to begin damaging body conscious comments in the U.S. to little girls at an early age). From the time she could talk, I taught Sissy to answer with “I’m just the right size” and we both meant it.

Piper put on a size 13 shoe this morning. She’s five. That’s not gargantuan by kid standards, but it’s an achievement in our house. Piper stands tall at Sissy’s shoulder, inching her way up. There are five years between them but a lot less in inches. It creates some tension, you can imagine.

Before school today, we were all at the door for the daily shoe, backpack, water bottle, homework scramble. Piper was flourishing a new pair of hand me down turquoise tennis shoes with just a few scuffs. Sissy was remembering that she wore them last year. Oops. Then Sissy checked the tag on the back of Piper’s hand me down shirt. “But I wore that LAST summer!” Sissy protested.

“Looks good on me!” Piper said. It wasn’t that helpful of a comment, you can imagine.

“Can’t you give her a reverse growth hormone or something?” Sissy asked.

“You’re both the right size for you. You’re wonderful just as you are,” I said. Blah, blah, blah is all they heard.

Sissy changed the subject. Sort of. “Did you know that there is a dwarf community in Ecuador that is immune to cancer? Scientists think that the same gene that creates the shortness may be the key to a long life.” We all stared at Sissy.

“Huh,” Piper said, “Is that what happened to Mom?”

No Exchanges. No Refunds.

Sissy ordered caramel french toast for her annual birthday breakfast in bed. Piper had to eat cold cereal on the floor of Sissy’s bedroom. Piper opted out of the french toast when she saw me making “stuff you dip in eggs that’s gross.”  She did dig two chocolates from her own Easter basket to add to Sissy’s vitamins. She’s got a generous heart, that one.


Piper was pleased just to step into the sacred preteen space. We, too, were allowed into Sissy’s bedroom to deliver the breakfast and wish her a happy birthday. It was quite a treat.

“What’s the best gift you ever received?” I asked Sissy, stopping myself short of cutting the french toast. Back off, Mom. Got it.

Sissy thought for a minute. “Probably my bike,” she said.

“I think Piper’s the best gift we ever gave you,” Dad said. Sissy and Piper exchanged incredulous glances. Me? Her?

“Boy I hope you don’t still have the receipt for me,” Piper said. “I do not want to be returned. I’m ‘as is,’ Sissy.”

Break Up

Maybe I should have seen it coming, but I’ve been in complete denial.

It’s more like a transition than a break up; hearts hurt just the same.

Sissy and Piper have slept together for years. They have their own rooms, but they’ve chosen to share the bunk beds in Piper’s room. Sissy has the top bunk. Piper burrows into a bottom nest below. Piper snores. Sissy has gotten used to it.

But over the last few weeks, Sissy has been sneaking out and going to her own room. It makes sense. She stays up much later. She likes to sleep in. She wants her space and privacy. Piper still springs out of bed with the sun. She likes to kick the top bunk and try to jostle her preteen Sissy awake so that she’ll play with her. Sissy is not as tolerant as she used to be.

Piper doesn’t quite understand the break up. The absence stings. Last night as I was tucking her in, Piper asked me to climb up into the top bunk. She just wanted someone up there while she dozed off. I found myself in a world of pink flowered pillows and stuffed animals. It’s a little girl’s world. Sissy isn’t much of a little girl anymore. My heart cracked a little, too. Then Piper called through the dark, “Okay, Mom. You can go now. I’m fine. Sissy’s just next door. I know where to find her.”


Wacky Tacky

It’s spirit week at school. On Monday Piper wore her pajamas. I don’t really know what wearing your pjs to school has to do with spirt, but gosh, it’s fun. Piper and Sissy cracked themselves up getting dressed in the living room (that’s where we keep piles of clean clothes these days) changing from their night pajamas to their carefully selected day pajamas.

Today was wacky tacky day. Again, I have no clue how this promotes school spirit but who doesn’t want to dress a little crazy now and then and get away with it? Piper wore three headbands. Sissy wore ponytails on top of her head. They chose crazy mismatched clothes and two separate shoes. At dinner they reported on their wacky tacky sightings.

“Did you see the girl in her bikini?” Piper asked.

“Yep. She was on the playground with me. She looked cold,” Sissy said.

“Yeah. That skirt didn’t seem to cover much if you know what I mean.”

“Oh, I do, sister.”

“Some boys in my class spiked their hair,” Piper reported.

“Mine, too. Boring.”

“Yeah. Anyone can spike their hair.”

“Did you see the girl with underwear on her head?” Sissy asked.

“I did,” Piper said. “Does that mean she wasn’t wearing any underwear you-know-where?”

“Gosh. I really hope not.”

So Sorry About This

This note came back to us in Piper’s homework folder yesterday. photo-320

Apparently, Sissy was helping Piper with her homework the night before. Piper didn’t receive words for the word sort assignment. Sissy took it upon herself to communicate appropriately to the teacher.

Thank goodness someone is parenting the Piper. When I grow up, I want to be Sissy.

That’s Amore More

I cleaned out the car yesterday. Here is a list of things Sissy and Piper left in the backseat:

7 used kleenexes

12 discarded lollipop sticks

4 half eaten granola bars

245987 wrappers

2 empty water bottles

17 unidentifiable objects

and 1 note written from Sissy to Piper…


…that made me forget the rest of the mess.

Telling Secrets

I told you before that the best part of the new house was the Under the Stairs Room. I blogged about it here.

I was wrong. The best part of the new house is the post box between Sissy and Piper’s room. That’s right. There is a hole for the passage of secret messages and such. It was a cable box, but we don’t have any of that fancy stuff so  Daddy took out the wiring and left the hole. He left in one screw, too, so you could cover the hole and then slide it to the side when you have an urgent errand, like passing a pen through the wall rather than walking the three feet around the door. The post box has been put to good use. Piper likes to do this through the hole:

As you can see, Sissy added blue duct tape for some decor. They’ve already had competitions to see who could stuff the biggest thing through. Barbie dolls were too easy. Shoes were challenging. Stuffed animals got stuck.

You can also throw things through the box at your Sissy, even if she doesn’t want you to. The games and fun are endless. We haven’t even unpacked the boxes of toys yet. Who needs them when you have a hole in your wall?

Walking to School

Every morning Sissy and Piper walk to school together. They hold hands on their commute. I watch them from a bench on our front porch. You can, too. They’re the ones at the front of the line. You’ll spy Piper’s blue tutu.

Then they walk home together after school. Sissy’s teacher dismisses her first. Piper waits in the kindergarten classroom for her pickup. I’m waiting on the same bench at home for their return, but I can imagine the moment when they see each other again. It’s not a chore they have to do together. Sissy doesn’t think it’s a burden. They enjoy walking to school together and walking home together. They always hold hands. There will be a day, I’m sure, when they won’t. And it will come sooner than I’m ready for, but for now, for this moment, this is the commute, and I’m savoring it.

One afternoon Sissy was a few minutes late picking up Piper. Her art teacher held them over the time to clean up. It worried Piper. “I thought you forgot me,” she told Sissy over their afternoon snack.

“I’d never forget you, P. I was just late,” Sissy explained.

“But I thought you weren’t coming,” Piper said.

Sissy grabbed Piper’s hand. “You’re the most important thing to me in that whole school. I’ll always come get you. I won’t forget. How could I forget you?”