The One Hundred-and-Thirty-Fifth Chart

July 25, 2014

By Ekta R. Garg

The longer she’s eight years old, the more my older child acts like a mother hen.

This week the kids have enjoyed separate camps at the YMCA; I enrolled Eight in a “wearable art” camp that has included tie-dyed shirts and decorating flip flops. Six gets to jump around in mini gymnastics (I have no idea what the “mini” is for, that’s just what they’re calling it.) The camps are at the same times, so I get to drop off both of them and then enjoy almost three hours of silence.

But I guess that last part is best saved for another Chart.

In any case, participating in separate camps doesn’t happen that often. Because of the small age difference and the fact that they’re best friends, I do what I can to find activities that they can do together. A few years ago this came from necessity when we first put the kids in semi-private swim lessons. It became something that we started doing regularly with almost all of their activities.

I’m not oblivious to the fact that my children are two different people. As they get older, I know they need to branch out and participate in activities apart from one another so they can explore age-appropriate interests and have non-sister friends. Hence the different camps.

They started the week a tad shy, but by the end of the first day of camp they both approached me with excited smiles. Six started jumping when I went to pick her up, and she chattered the entire way to the room where her sister waited proudly with her first friendship bracelets of the week.

On Tuesday when we got into the car, Eight turned to her sister and said, “So what did you learn in camp today?”

The fact that she asked touched my heart as it was. But the tone sounded so grown up. She said it like she’d suddenly gotten much older. More than that she listened intently as Six described her day in camp.

I’ve seen several instances where her nurturing side has come out, and it’s heartwarming to watch. It also makes me wonder how these moments will help both girls in the future. Of course they’ll help Six when she needs assistance with something, but I’m sure they’ll also help Eight in some way.

The girls got a pair of American Girl craft boxes at their joint birthday party, and they’ve spent this week working through the first one. This box contained felt pieces that the kids could tape and fold into flowers: roses, daisies (completely with yellow centers,) and dahlias. The kit also came with a piece of green felt in the shape of a bouquet to use as a background.

Eight loves crafty stuff (hence the wearable art camp this week,) and I wanted to make sure she included her sister in making the flowers. She did more than that, though. She gave her a title.

“All right, junior florist in training,” she called yesterday after spreading out the materials for another flower-making session. “Let’s get started.”

“Coming, Di-Di,” Six replied. After a minute or two she bounded to the coffee table where Eight had set up, and the two of them began chattering and working on flowers. Within minutes they had incorporated the flower making into their make believe, and Six took to the “junior florist” role right away. Today when Eight called for her junior florist, they began making flowers and then Six quickly got promoted. Then the girls dubbed one of their imaginary friends as the junior florist.

The funniest moment of nurturing came yesterday during their practice time. Six had just finished practicing her guitar and got sidetracked while putting it away. She threaded her pick between the strings, but she continued thrumming the strings.

Eight had just opened her violin case and eyed her sister sideways. “What have I told you about playing your guitar when your pick is in the strings?”

Six looked at me for a moment, and I nodded. “Don’t play it with the pick in the strings, [Six,] it could mess up the guitar.”

“Okay,” she said, stretching out the word in resigned annoyance. She put the instrument away and scampered to her room to continue reading her book.

Of course, Six doesn’t always take to her sister’s interference with such compliance. But it’s funny and interesting and cute when she does. When they become teenagers, this ability Eight has to guide, chide, and direct her younger sister may come in handy.

As long as I can do the same for Eight at that time.

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