The sun was out so I decided to walk to pick Katie up from school instead of driving. The air was chilly, but the sun felt good on my face. My big puffy coat might make me look like the Michelin Man, but it's the warmest coat I've ever owned, so I wasn't cold at all during the quick dash around the corner.
Katie was already outside waiting for me, her face smiling under her Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles knit hat. As she walked toward me I saw she was carrying her coat.
"Put your coat on! It's way too cold to walk outside without a coat!" I bossed her around before I bothered to say hello.
"Mom. I'm hot," Katie said with a tone in her voice that made it sound like she didn't appreciate the tone in my voice. She tugged at the collar of her thick sweater. "I've been hot all day!" She stuck her tongue out dramatically like she was suffocating.
"Oh," I said, stopping to look her over. I turned around and we proceeded to walk next to each other along the sidewalk. "I guess that sweater is warm?"
"Yes. And, I'm hot blooded. I'm not like you, Mom. I think you're cold blooded," Katie smiled just like her daddy does when he's teasing me.
"Oh yeah? Well. I'm a mammal, and mammals are all warm blooded," I explained, pretending to not get the joke.
"No Mom! You're cold blooded. You're cold ALL THE TIME," Katie exclaimed.
"Well, I might have poor circulation, but I'm still a warm blooded animal," I winked at her so she knew I was kidding her back.
"I think you're really a reptile, Mom," Katie laughed at the thought.
"Oh yeah? What kind of reptile?" I asked, grabbing her hand to warm it. She wasn't wearing her gloves either.
"You're a turtle. Yeah, definitely a turtle," Katie decided.
"Why am I a turtle?" I asked, assuming she was going to say something about mutantization.
"Because you are so slow to wake up in the morning!" Katie laughed and laughed.
"Well, you've got me there, " I said, chuckling.
Our conversation was interrupted suddenly by a high pitched wail coming from the two girls walking ahead of us. We both quit talking and looked up to see what was going on. The bigger girl, a second-grader in Katie's class said, "If you're gonna push me I'm gonna push you back," and then proceeded to follow through by pushing the littler girl, who I assume is her sister since we see them walking home together all the time. The littler girl pushed the bigger girl back. Then the bigger girl pushed the littler girl harder. She lost her balance and her boot skidded off the sidewalk and landed on a patch of snowy grass, which made her wobble even more. The bigger girl kept on walking without waiting to see if the littler girl was OK.
I started walking faster so I could ask the littler girl if she was OK, but before I could get to her she started running toward the bigger girl whining, "Wait for me!"
I felt sorry for the littler girl, although it sounds like she's the one who started the fight. It's too bad their parents aren't around to break up their fight. But then again, what do I know? Maybe fighting with your siblings builds strength of character, toughening your feelings up enough that you don't burst into tears whenever anyone criticizes you, like I do. My siblings were too much older than I was to fight with me. They treated me more like their living baby doll than a sibling rival.
Katie interrupted my thoughts by grunting, "Ugh!"
"What's wrong?" I asked.
Katie nodded her head in the girls' direction and said, "The whining. Mom, is that what it's like to have a little sister?"
I looked at her and smiled, realizing that she was seeing things from the bigger girl's perspective. Ugh. Whiny little brat. Why are you always following me around. Why do I have to look after you when Mom and Dad aren't around? This is not fair.
"I don't know. I never had a little sister. But I imagine it's like that for lots of kids," I said.
"Well, you can cross that off my Christmas List," Katie said, smiling slyly.
"Cross what off your Christmas List?" I asked.
"A little sister. I don't want a little sister after all," Katie said.
I laughed so hard I choked on my own spit and started coughing. Katie patted my back. When I could breathe again I said, "Well, I guess you're not too disappointed about being an only child anymore? Remember when you were younger and you'd complain that you didn't have a brother or a sister?" I smiled, thankful she's broadening her view of the situation.
"Yeah, but I'm in second grade now, Mom. I know lots of stuff I didn't know back then. I know I do not want a whiny little sister, that's for sure!"
We walked along holding hands, grateful for each other.
I looked up and saw that the littler girl had caught up to the bigger girl. I couldn't hear them anymore, but by the time the Crossing Guard walked them to the other side of the street I saw them both laughing about something.
No matter what kind of life we're given, there are bad moments and good moments.
I used to feel sorry for Katie, that my subfertility ruined her chance of having a little sister. But as time passes, as we both grow and have new experiences, I see Katie's going to be fine no matter what life gives her.