Heater, Mother of Lance

Little sisters are so unfair

Yesterday Leta had a play date here at the house, one that lasted the majority of the day and now I feel like I have a little bit of insight into what a cop must go through when trying to break up a fight between two irrational drunk people. Because here’s the thing: MARLO. She’s the thing. She’s a kicking, screaming, should have stopped at the tenth shot of tequila and is determined to convince you she is not drunk thing.


Marlo wanted nothing more than to play with those two girls, to be in the same room, to touch the toys in their hands. That’s it. She just wanted to be a part of it. But Leta, she wanted nothing more than for Marlo to go away, to be banished to a remote island, to be locked in a cage at the bottom of the sea, to MOM! MOM! MOM! MOM! MOOOOMMMMM! MOOOOMMMMM!

Leta used up all of the MOM!’s yesterday. All of them. There are none left. That’s why your kid is calling you by your first name today, Jennifer.

Remember when your mother would get angry at you and call you by your full name, how the hair would stand on the back of your neck and a sickening pulse would run down your spine? Turns out she was feeling the exact same thing whenever you were annoyed and calling for her to come fix it. Because damn if she didn’t raise you to fix it yourself.

I ran constant interference between the two of them, all day long. Over and over and over again.

And then again.

And then once more.

Oh, it just happened again.

It’s still going on.

I did the best I could to keep Marlo occupied, but she’d spot an opening and make a run for it, up to Leta’s room and then MOOOOMMMMM! And my spine would shoot up and out the base of my skull. It was spectacular. Shards of bone everywhere. Blood splatter on the wall. CSI showed up.

So I’ve got Leta going on and on and on about how it is the worst thing ever in the entire world and the history of the universe to have a little sister and each time she says “sister” she’s making a face like she’s drowning in a septic tank. Meanwhile Marlo is writhing and kicking the floor and this ungodly noise is just erupting from her face because they won’t let her touch the Squinkies and I’m like, whatever happened to dirt?

Here is a stick, there is some dirt, figure it out. I’ll call you back inside for dinner when the timer goes off and I take the frozen pizza out of the oven.

Didn’t we figure it out? Am I making this up? Am I remembering things wrong because I didn’t have a younger sister who was all up in my stuff? I just remember leaving the house for hours and my mom had no idea where I was. Whatever happened to not knowing where our kids are, am I right?

  • The Absent Minded Housewife

    2013/04/22 at 4:11 pm

    What the hell is a Squinkie?

    That said, my older sister cut off the top of my Barbie’s head because she was mad at me. I sewed it back on with red thread. FrankenBarbie.

  • Damaris @bliss.com

    2013/04/22 at 4:17 pm

    Always great! And yes, unfortunately I can relate.

  • natalie

    2013/04/22 at 4:18 pm

    Aww, I totally remember feeling just like Leta as a kid. Except my little brother was a bit of a nudist, making it all the more unbearable. If it’s any consolation, there is no one I adore more than my brother now. It just took a decade to get there. 😉

  • Jennifer

    2013/04/22 at 4:19 pm

    I left the house for HOURS, my mom now says she *always* knew where I was. I challenge that.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/04/22 at 4:20 pm

    My brother cut off my Barbie’s hands and feet WTF!

  • Jennifer

    2013/04/22 at 4:20 pm
  • Amy H

    2013/04/22 at 4:30 pm

    You are right. My parents had no clue. We were outside until the street lights came on. It was then and only then that we went inside the house. I find it extremely unfair that no one told me that had changed when I mentioned we were thinking of having a baby. That should have been brought up.

  • RFishie

    2013/04/22 at 4:30 pm

    I have two little sisters. My mean ol’ mom “forced” me to play with them. No matter who had friends over, we played together. If we didnt get along we didn’t get to play. Oh the horror!

  • Jennifer

    2013/04/22 at 4:32 pm

    I can’t help you. I’m an only child and my daughter is an only child. But I was still called by my full name when I was in trouble. I can hear it now, Jennifer Lee …

    Like the first Jennifer who commented, I too was out of the house for hours. I think I told her where I was going but as far as I know she never checked. As long as I was home on time, things were good.

  • Karen

    2013/04/22 at 4:46 pm

    Ha! Seriously, we grew up in a round-house field of neighbor’s kids and we had like a 10-year age span but we all played together… sandboxes and big wheels and walks around the block to torture neighbors (we called it visiting) and suck on honeysuckle flowers and dare one another to eat dirt and leaves. We got kicked out of the house when the sun rose and called back in for meals and bedtime. If we were lucky, we were let back in to someone’s house to pee 😉

  • K

    2013/04/22 at 4:51 pm

    Yup…outside all day and night! Even after the sun went down in the summer time! Those were the day..! Can’t even think of letting the kids do that now…..poor Marlo 🙁 She wants to be like her big sissy.

  • Kate

    2013/04/22 at 5:02 pm

    I’m calling for a guest post by *your* older sister, Heather. 😉

    Also, yes, we figured it out. “Come home when the street lights come on, and don’t call me unless you’re bleeding” were my instructions. I loved those days!

  • Amy Jacobs

    2013/04/22 at 5:06 pm

    I call your playdate and raise you each daughter (11 and 8) both having a friend over to spend the night!! Yup…that was my Friday night this past weekend. Yup, my back literally was killing me from getting up and down and going up the stairs to threaten bodily harm, sending a kid home and telling them to GO TO BED ALREADY…all from my own idea!! My husband would have NO part of it since it was ALL my idea, lol. I even surprised the oldest with the sleepover with her best friend!! NEVER AGAIN! (actually they weren’t terribly bad…my oldest…we call her “buzzkill”…was the worst of it with her constant complaining and controlling nature). In other words, I feel your pain Heather and have for YEARS. My two bickering are the reason we aren’t taking a vacation this year. I’d rather be trapped in hell with Barney Frank and Ashley Judd (I’m a conservative, lol) versus listen to the two of them compete and fight for a week! : )

  • Jen Wilson

    2013/04/22 at 5:13 pm

    My mom forced me to play barbies with my 18-months-younger brother. Pure torture. Not that he liked barbies, but he wanted to do EVERYTHING I WAS DOING. My girls are exactly the same. They’re six years apart, and the younger one wants to do EVERYTHING her older sister does, and her older sister is always yelling, MOOOMMMM!!!

    20 years from now they’ll be making jokes about this playdate.

    And when my mom was mad at me, she’d go through the beginning of all the names and then get back to me: Je-Ni-Bra-Er-JENNIFER!

  • Lil Dane$

    2013/04/22 at 5:35 pm

    My sister annoyed the shit out of me and now she’s my best friend. They will tell funny stories about this exact thing happening in about, oh, 20 years 🙂

  • Ali

    2013/04/22 at 5:36 pm

    My mom would do that, except it was” Eric-Courtney-Dani….damn it, you know your damn name.”

  • Emmz

    2013/04/22 at 5:38 pm

    I told my wee sister that poo brown was my favourite colour because she was always copying me… And I used to play hide and (not) seek with her! Or I’d hide under the stairs cause she was too scared to find me there!

  • Ali

    2013/04/22 at 5:39 pm

    Squinkies: Bsically the little toys that come in quarter machines but now us parents (see also:suckers) purchase these damn things at 10 bucks a set because now it’s matchbox/star wars/monsters.

    Also: Boys 8 and 3 do the exact same thing over Legos. The 3 yo will also yell out the mail slot the whole time his brother is playing with friends outside.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/04/22 at 5:52 pm

    My mom once went through all the names including her best friend’s dog named Oreo. She called me Oreo. She fucking called me Oreo.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/04/22 at 5:57 pm

    I ADORED my older sister. She would talk more about how I constantly tried to show her affection, all the hugging and kissing I tried to do and her rejection of it. She had a boyfriend very early on at age 13 (she married him and has been married to him since 1989), so I was a nuisance.

  • Ali

    2013/04/22 at 6:14 pm

    “She fucking called me Oreo”: That’s sounds like it could be either an awesome epitaph or a motive, likely the latter.

  • Ali

    2013/04/22 at 6:18 pm

    “She fucking called me Oreo”: That could be either an awesome epitaph or motive, likely the latter.

  • maryoneski

    2013/04/22 at 6:49 pm

    yep, spent hours with friends and neighbor kids, riding bike, rollerskating, going to one of the many parts in town, riding the bike path along the river, catching frogs and salamanders. we made it home for dinner then out again. we would come home early sometimes but only if our injury was bad enough! I’m the younger sister and now i feel bad for following my brother around…..guess i should give him a call!

  • michelle fournier

    2013/04/22 at 7:01 pm

    Oh my love. I was the older sister, my younger sister is only 16 months behind me. I could never do ANYTHING without her. I never had my own friends, and it was all so horrible.
    Except it wasn’t. When there was no one else to play with, we were always together. We used to beat the crap out of each other (the broken specs were legendary) but we realized we’d both be in trouble and we just recently told our mom what REALLY happened to our glasses all those times.

    It’ll take a little time, but eventually Marlo will have friends over and Leta will have nothing to do, and the tables will turn, oh yes they will. Until then, try to spread the playdates at other’s houses or find something special to do with Marlo while Leta has her friend over. And liquor. A LOT of it.

  • Joanna

    2013/04/22 at 7:06 pm

    I have a 15 month old girl and 5 year old boy, and she follows him everywhere and wants to do everything he’s doing. Drives him nuts!! My mom would go through my 2 sisters, my dog, three cats, then finally me. I always felt slightly miffed she remembered the cats before me.

  • ahk

    2013/04/22 at 7:21 pm

    When my mom was mad, whoever she was yelling at was called the dogs name. Me, my brother, my dad. Anyone

  • Anna

    2013/04/22 at 7:51 pm

    I’m the oldest of four. I totally understand. After one particularly annoying afternoon, I discovered that my pet goldfish had died. So instead of a proper burial-by-toilet, I stuck it at the back my sister’s underwear drawer. It drove my sister and my mom nuts for a week trying to identify the source of the smell!

  • jchammonds

    2013/04/22 at 8:10 pm

    I was an only child until I was almost 15 and my mom ALWAYS knew where I was. And if she lost sight of me and called out to me and I didn’t answer? Hoo boy! Here comes the switch!

  • Darlene

    2013/04/22 at 8:12 pm

    I threw pulled pork on top of a headless Barbie in the trash a few weeks ago. Without knowing the story of that Barbie mind you. C’mon. I was busy. Turns out, that headless Barbie was the result of some sibling rivalry. My younger tot, the owner, found that pork Barbie with the big puffy pink dress and there is no doubt in my mind she will never forget that moment. That screech..that MOMMY!!…is forever burned inside of my head. Still not sure if that one is on me ,or…..And yes! I need to know less where Barbie heads are and of my children’s whereabouts

  • Cristy

    2013/04/22 at 8:16 pm

    Benign neglect – the parenting style of the 60s and 70s. *sigh* I miss those days. 🙂

  • Jasi Lee

    2013/04/22 at 9:11 pm

    it’s weird how birth order works.. i have a leta girl and a marlo boy. and because my first is so first-like, my second looks even more rowdy by comparison. but my little one is wild. he makes me believe in leashes for children. i’m -this- close to decorating an electric fence collar with thomas trains to see if it will be more attractive…

  • diedrep2

    2013/04/22 at 9:48 pm

    Im the littlest sister and I still tag along to my biggest sister. I also love the hand me downs now because her taste is perfect. When i see my girls doing what youre talking about, I realize how annoying I must have been and how frustrating I was (am?). Sisters rock.

  • Pickle

    2013/04/22 at 10:17 pm

    The problem is I’m so crippled with anxiety that I can’t relax when the kids are gone, out of my sight, playing with dirt. What if ____ falls on them? What if they electrocute themselves? What if ___ or ____ or ____? I read too much shit about bad things that have happened to kids and then can’t get it out my head as a possibility. Then I berate myself for not enjoying a free range kids approach to life, so I save it all up until I go to sleep, and then I replay all the things that could have possibly went wrong. Yikes. I’m really trying to relax/get a grip, but wow do I struggle.

  • Kristi

    2013/04/22 at 11:32 pm

    You are so right! I would ride my bike to my best friend’s house and be gone for HOURS. On the other hand I have two little sisters and totally get what Leta is going through. You should just tie Marlo up next time. OH! Or crate her. It’ll be easier. Ok-I’m sure I’m going to get hate comments now.

  • Sarah Coon

    2013/04/23 at 12:20 am

    My (little) sister got mad at me and cut the toes off all of my Barbies. Systematically. So that they could never wear shoes again. She STILL cackles about that one, and she’s 37.

  • Rachael Lee

    2013/04/23 at 1:31 am

    YES. I would just leave the house for hours and hours as well and my folks never had a clue what I was up to (nothing terribly exciting anyway)

  • Mandinka

    2013/04/23 at 6:29 am

    You are right. Hell, when I was 4 years old, I was walking to kindergarten on the south side of Chicago and we HAD to stay outside and entertain ourselves all Summer.

  • Meg Griswold

    2013/04/23 at 6:44 am

    My sister is 8 years older and she would tell my mom to keep me from following her down the street to friends’ houses. My mom would stop paying attention and I would escape and ring the doorbell wanting to play. My sister looks back on this very fondly now–she even brought it up at my wedding! Just get ready to say “you’re welcome” in about 15 years.

  • maggie

    2013/04/23 at 7:30 am

    My 2 are exactly the same way. In fact, my younger daughter was once so upset that her sister and friend were ignoring her, she decided to take her sister’s American Girl doll and chop all the hair off. She was 3 at the time. And if Older sister gets to go to a party, sleepover, playdate somewhere without Little sis, I practically have to buy her a pony to stop the screaming.

  • Desiree Johnson

    2013/04/23 at 7:31 am

    My older brother used to chase me around the house singing the freddy krueger song from nightmare on elmstreet and he would also convince me to do things like pretend to run away to scare my mom! My mom was cool though… she’d just stand there and tell me buy then lock the door. Knowing I wasn’t serious.

  • TJ

    2013/04/23 at 7:50 am

    My husband has a little bro who followed him around obsessively. Unfortunately, when he was 9 and little bro was 3, he wanted so badly to go to J so he could play football with all the boys that he disobeyed their dad, attempted to run across the street and got hit by a car. Broke his leg, huge cast for weeks. J still feels terrible about it and claims his parents always reminded him of it so he would put up with his little brother’s hero worshipping. Still followed J everywhere when I met them both in their twenties. Luckily, marriage finally cured him.

  • Amanda Robey

    2013/04/23 at 8:13 am

    My mom would go, “S-uhh… K-uhh…” *SNAP, SNAP, POINT* “You!” … Sam, Kathy, Amanda. She had three daughters and couldn’t even get my name out. She’d give up. Like oh, man, why’d I have so many kids? These three damn kids are one too many. What’s that one’s name again? Where’d she even come from? (By the way: My oldest sister, Kathy, had been out of the house since I was 3. So she BASICALLY only had to remember two names.)

  • Lucy VP

    2013/04/23 at 8:13 am

    We were also dumped outside to play for the day. Once I hit the ripe old age of ten I would spend most of my time running away from my little sister.

  • Beth Rich George

    2013/04/23 at 8:55 am

    Yep, my little sister cut off all my Crissy Doll’s hair. And then pretended she thought it would grow back. She didn’t confess until 40 years later.

  • Carol Sorensen

    2013/04/23 at 9:02 am

    I think my kids have roughl.y the same age difference yours do (4 1/2 years) and the rule was, and is “Don’t say can’t play.” It makes it much less alluring to be annoying – no forbidden fruit, and no wailing on the part of the other kid. Or get a kid Marlos age to come over at the same time.

  • Ruthie

    2013/04/23 at 9:09 am

    I would make my younger sister buy me things with her allowance money. All the time. (like when I was 9 and she was 7). I still buy her exorbitant presents every year for bday and cmas out of guilt. She followed me around all growing up, but she is my best friend now – wouldn’t have it any other way!

  • Megan

    2013/04/23 at 9:18 am

    Oh, Heather. Having a sister is a special joy. But it takes a good 10-15 years to decide that. There are almost 6 years between my younger sister and me, and aside from a few touching moments when she was small and I’d teach her to do stuff (because it was that or murder her and I was pretty sure my parents wouldn’t be cool with that), I loathed her until she was right around 13. (Huh, around the time I turned 18 and moved out of the house. Funny how that works.) And she had to be doing everything I was doing. She followed my friends and me ev.ery.where. I watched with horror as 3 y/o sis would hurl herself onto my sophisticated 9 y/o friends, attempting to smother them with kisses. She had a crush on every boy I ever knew or spent time with. And long before Leta was to even exist, I had thoroughly exhausted the “mom”s , so she must be some kind of witch to have refreshed the supply.

    tl;dr: Good luck with everything. Considering damaging your hearing in some semi-permanent way that can be repaired in about 10 years.

  • Kathy J

    2013/04/23 at 10:15 am

    our cat chewed off all my daughter’s Mary Kate & Ashley doll’s feet (we had 3 sets) couldn’t just buy the clothing/theme had to buy the dolls each time)

  • Joanne z Filmlady

    2013/04/23 at 11:44 am

    My older brother cut the head off my one and only Shirley Temple doll and paraded around the neighborhood on Halloween with it on a stick, wearing a sign that said “You may be next.”

  • issascrazyworld

    2013/04/23 at 12:19 pm

    Have a third. Then it’s even worse. Heh. My girls fight and then my younger daughter fights non-stop with my son. Yet my son and oldest get along great. It’s like sibling roulette around here. I’m never sure who’s winning though. I do know, I lose. ALWAYS.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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