Tonight, I was reading a book to Sabrina after Max had conked out, one from the adorable Charlie and Lola series—But Excuse Me, That Is MY Book. Lola's obsessed with a book called Beetles, Bugs, and Butterflies, and Charlie (her older bro) tries to introduce her to other kinds—one about Romans, a pop-up book, an encyclopedia. As we sat on the floor, Sabrina on my lap, it occurred to me that she is missing out on some of the benefits of having a typical big brother.
I don't sit around thinking about what's lacking in our lives or, in particular, Sabrina's. Mostly, I'm cheering on and celebrating Max's progress, as I did yesterday. It takes a book, a comment, an incident to spark a realization like this. Oh. Sabrina doesn't have the type of older brother who can introduce her to new books. Or teach her to ride a bike. Or explain things to her. Or protect her from other kids. It's all reversed—Sabrina's the one showing Max how to do stuff, and deflecting kids' mean comments. Once, on a vacation, the kids' club staff gave Sabrina a "Best Big Sister" award.
I've written before about how Sabrina can be Max's best friend, and worst enemy. That hasn't changed, though the intensity has. Lately, when she gets mad at him, she is so, so mad. She pushes him (and he pulls her hair back). She chants "Max loves GREEN!" when she knows he's all about purple. She says obnoxious things such as "Ewww, he smells like drool." But when she's sweet to him, she is tender beyond her years. Like this weekend at the beach, we were having a barbecue and she grabbed Max, pulled him onto her lap (she's got 10 pounds on him) and hugged him tight.
And yet, even as I sit here pondering the things Sabrina may not learn from her brother, I know there is plenty she can learn from him. The really big, important stuff that makes you a good person in this world.
I hope Max teaches her patience, which she could use more of.
And extreme kindness.
I hope she learns from Max that you can be different than other people, but still be a perfectly great person.