When Mom and Dad announced they were expecting another baby, I launched a campaign for a brother, convinced to my bones that I had some sort of say in the matter. I was, after all, 4 years old.
Mom and Dad let it continue for a couple months before they had to break it to me via wallpapering the baby’s room in pink that I’d be getting a sister instead. They tried to ease the disappointment with a purple ribbon that said “Future big sister,” a park district class for siblings-to-be, and many assorted Golden Books.
It must have worked, because by the time August 15, 1996, rolled around, I was just happy to be getting a sibling. I’d have someone to play with! I’d have someone to read to! I’d have someone to blame for mysteriously broken and/or missing items around the house!
Of course, there was a lot more to having a sister, as I would come to learn. A five-year age difference meant that I was responsible for imparting upon her the right kinds of wisdom before she got to Glenbard North High School and the University of Missouri.
But now Bridget’s moving forward into marriage, which is a new chapter of life that I haven’t experienced yet, and so in order to continue my rather shiny track record of advice-giving, I’ve had to turn to the experts.
A couple years ago, our family took a weekend getaway to Kinderhook, Missouri, to stay in a cabin on a golf course and unplug for a few days. In your early and mid-20s, there’s only so much “unplugging” you can really do, so eventually Bridget and I started flipping through the decorative books placed throughout the house. And that’s when she discovered a volume of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books with an excerpt from Jean Kerr’s How I Got to be Perfect, published in 1954. What particularly grabbed our attention was a tongue-and-cheek informational quiz for both men and women trying to be perfect spouses. I’d like to share some of the advice with Bridget and Bryan today;
- Bridget: When Bryan asks where his clean handkerchiefs have gone, offer him one of yours, but add that you’ll fold it so that the lace doesn’t show.
- Bryan: When Bridget asks “Will you lower that ball game?” The proper response is “Is it bothering you? Why don’t I go up to the bedroom to listen to it on the portable?”
- Bridget: If you’re crying and Bryan asks why, the proper response is “Because I’m silly…Give me a hug and take out the garbage, and I’ll be through here in no time.”
- Bryan: If Bridget ever asks “Do you love me as much as you did the day we were married?” the response is NOT “Oh, Lord, not again.” Instead it’s “If you have to ask that question, it must be my fault. I musn’t be showing all the love I really feel.”
After watching you two grow in love and life together over the last few years, I don’t think any of this advice is truly needed. But I’m an older sister, and if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s providing input whether it’s needed or not. Bridget knows that from 25 years of it, and now I’m very excited to play that role for my new brother, Bryan.