It’s usually cute when parents announce to their young first-born child that a sibling is on the way. The little recipient is either elated, or unhappy and confused, but an element of surprise prevails.
In my case, though, it was different. For 5-year-old me, it was a moment of sweet relish, the knowledge that my efforts had finally borne fruit. No, you didn’t read that wrong. I sincerely believed that I alone was responsible for this good fortune bestowed on my family.
My friends had siblings long before they turned 5, and house visits to these families had always left me with a feeling of envy and wonder. Their baby brothers and sisters came in all manner of shapes, sizes and temperaments, not all appealing. But the power of the older sibling was something I watched them wield, with longing in my eyes. For one thing, they were bigger than the tot, and consequently looked up to. For another, their moms and dads were usually so haggard cleaning up after the babies and fussing over them, they had little energy to chase after the older kid and nag him. And as long as the baby couldn’t speak, you could get away with an amazing array of stuff, just blaming it on the baby, and watch as your problems miraculously disappeared if your parents thought the baby was responsible.
So I knew what I wanted, I had to find out how to get one for myself. I decided that a sister was definitely the better package, peace-lover that I was; I had experienced violent baby boys pulling your hair and breaking your toys and that was surely not worth it.
Naturally, I went to my parents to ask about it. They were sportive. They explained to me how God would bless little girls with baby sisters if they prayed real hard every day. And how I would have to drink down my daily glass of milk and eat my vegetables, and go to sleep when they asked me to. The process was pretty elaborate.
I wondered if it was all worth it. I decided to give it a shot anyway. And so my labours began, I prayed sincerely for a sister, entreated God not to make a mistake and send along a brother instead; there was too much at stake here. I made an attempt to eat, drink and do exactly what was spelled out in the process. Several months passed. I watched mom swell with a baby and pictured my little sister sitting cramped inside her, in a little frilly frock and pink socks. I was annoyed at friends and family speculating that it might be a boy.
Finally she arrived. Squealing, shriveled and missing the cute clothes, but mine to brag about and manipulate. I had done it. I had made myself a little sister.