One of the comments I heard often, when I was pregnant with the twins, had to do with the age gap between them and my two older girls. Claire and Camille were four and six when I became pregnant with Mimi and Tess.
As is the case for most pregnant women, I was offered a lot of unsolicited advice.
‘Oh, the age gap is going to be a problem,’ a mother said to me on the school playground one day.
Taken aback I responded without thinking, ‘Hmmmm. I guess it’s all in how you look at it-- I can’t imagine anything about having babies being a problem.’
And I walked away . Bitchy I know, but am I right?
I grew up with a large age space between myself and my four older brother and sisters. To be honest, I never felt part of their ‘crowd’. They were all born within six years of each other, then a space of seven years until I came along. I haven’t lived in the same house as my oldest sister since I was four.
So the space in age between our two ‘big girls’ and our two ‘little girls’ was something that I have always been aware of.
But here’s the thing; from day one, the big girls have been nothing but excited, patient and engaged with the little girls. Even when they were just blobby newborns, the big girls would want to hold them, to take naps with them-- Camille would even burp one for me, as I fed the other.
This past weekend we went down to Bellinzona. It is a UNESCO Heritage site. It’s a lovely little, walled city in the southern most section of Switzerland, the Ticino area, the Italian speaking (and eating) area. It has three medieval castles -- very cool. While we were there a Medieval festival was going on at one of the castles. Loads of people dressed in period costume were cooking, doing handicrafts, entertaining and having sword fights. It was fantastic.
The sword fights caught Claire’s eye. There was a young woman wielding a huge, heavy sword, fighting the big guys and totally holding her own. She was amazing to watch; long, auburn hair down to her waist, her body was lean and lithe beneath her simple, beige linen gown. This so inspired the big girls that they asked to spend their allowance on a handmade, wooden sword. They even had mini wooden swords for the little girls. This was the best $50 we have ever spent.
All four girls took to the field at the side of the castle and began sword fighting in earnest. Claire, especially loved it. The big girls made up a whole routine, while the little ones just batted it out. Sometimes they would switch opponents, pairing up a little girl with a big girl. They carried the swords with them the entire weekend, challenging each other to fights at every spare moment; in the piazza after dinner, in the hotel room before breakfast, up and down the steps leading to the castles.
All four were having good, old fashioned fun together. No Ipods, no Gameboys, no television, no computer games-- just a sword widdled out of wood, and their sisters.
Now, as Claire is maturing into a tween and Camille is following right along, I think they secretly find comfort in the idea that they can still be ‘kids’ when they are with their little sisters. They can sort of use the little girls as an excuse to play with a sword or cuddle up and hear Mommy read the four of them a story. It is reassuring to me too, knowing that they still secretly, want to be children.