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.”
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.”
…cutting, pasting, coloring cards of love…
…whispering, giggling, glittering with Sissy.
Sissy made a little collage for the Piper. They’re sweet like that. Sisters.
You want one, too, don’t you? I do. Sissy should be taking orders.
We went to the zoo last weekend. It was a perfect fall day. Sunny. Chilly enough for hot chocolate and donuts. Warm enough to walk around watching the animals and appreciating the changing colors. It was an educational experience for Piper, too. These are the things she learned:
1. Animals poop. A lot.
2. Monkeys have funny butts.
3. Some monkeys have funny boobs, too.
4. Underwater caves have the best views.
5. When animals poop a lot it smells. Bad.
6. If you ask for a really small thing at the gift store, your odds are better than when you ask to take home the life size panda.
7. You’re always the red dot on the map. The red dot follows you. It’s amazing.
8. Elephants lay eggs. Or they like to play with big white balls. Whatever.
9. Elephants poop a lot. It’s big poop. It smells like big poop.
10. Seals fight over the same rock. Even when there are two seals and twenty rocks. It’s a lot like having a Sissy.
Our new house has an under the stairs room. You know, like Harry Potter. One of those cool cut out spaces tucked in the basement just waiting for your imagination. Our house in Illinois had one, too. It doubled as American Girl Land and our tornado shelter. At least we had stuff to play with when the sirens were going off.
Yesterday at breakfast Sissy and Piper were making plans for their new under the stairs room. They want it to be a hideout. Something new. Something private. Adults aren’t allowed. “Why can’t we have the whole basement?” Piper asked.
“Dad will have his office down there. And we need a guest room, too,” I said. Dad works from home three days a week. And we have a lot of visitors. “But the under the stairs room is all yours.”
“In fact,” Dad said, “we were thinking you both would just live in the under the stairs room and leave the upstairs bedrooms for us.” Sissy rolled her eyes. She knows to never take him seriously. Piper played along, though.
“What? You’re going to lock us in the under the stairs room? Just like Harry Potter!” Piper feigned outrage and panic. It was quite a performance.
“Don’t worry. We’ll still bring you food,” Dad reassured them. Sissy rolled her eyes again.
“Well,” Piper said, reaching across the table for Sissy’s hand, “at least we’ll be together.”
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?”