Best sister ever

photo by Heather B. Armstrong for

I was walking by the dry erase easel sitting in a corner of the living room when this caught my eye:

photo by Heather B. Armstrong for

I took a photograph of it and thought I’d upload it to Instagram and make a joke that this would say something very different in ten years when Marlo borrows her favorite shirt without asking her and loses it. Or steals her mascara, or always leaves her to replace the toilet paper in their bathroom, or is humming that one song she hates and refuses to stop. I was just about to type, “Or hogs the phone for hours.” How cute is that? “The” phone. Singular.

Kids, we grew up with one phone. And it was attached to the wall. We lived through that. Do not ever challenge someone who grew up in the Eighties to a bar fight.

But then I thought, I wonder if Leta knows that she is the best sister ever? No, I’m not about to get all gross, so don’t start gagging. How unbecoming.

It’s just that Leta deserves all the credit here. She puts up with so much shit from that kid. She shares everything with her, even though Marlo breaks or loses or purposefully disfigures anything she can get her hands on. Leta will want to be by herself in her room reading books but will play one more round of hide and seek because Marlo wants to. She’ll give her one more piggy back ride, she’ll play house for ten more minutes. I’d like to take all the credit for her generosity, but then I realize I’ve raised Marlo exactly the same way and that kid will eventually be arrested for felony arson.

Add then… oof. One night last week Leta was reading before bed. I usually give her about a half hour and then go into her room to tuck her in. I was sitting in my own bedroom reading when she quietly walked through my door. I asked her if she wanted to call it a night and she nodded while biting her lip.

“You okay?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said. “It’s just, can I ask you something?”

“Of course. You can ask me anything.”

“Well… I was thinking… can I sell some of my toys?”

“Why do you want to sell your toys?” I asked as I stood up and started walking her toward her room. She hesitated and waited until she had climbed into her bed to answer me.

“I want to buy Marlo some new toys, and I thought that if I sold some of my own that I’d have the money to do it.”

“Leta,” I said and pulled the covers up to her chin. “That’s super nice of you. Do you really want to do that?”

She yanked the covers down a bit in a display of excitement. “I do! I really do! I want to walk through a toy store with her and let her pick something out, something that I can buy for her.”

I experienced two emotions at that point: 1) OH MY GOD MY KID IS AMAZING, and 2) Dude, that kid treats you like shit! And not only do you take it, but you want to buy her presents? COME ON. Do not ever let her borrow your favorite shirt, do you hear me? Huge mistake. HUGE.

In the end the first emotion won.