I'll admit. I'm the youngest of three. I know very little about what it means to be a big sister or a big brother. So when Anna wanted to talk last night and with tears in her eyes said "I don't know how to be a big sister. What does that mean? How do I do it?" I began recounting all the things my brother and sister did for me.
So, what's a big sister or big brother?
It's having your hand on mommy's belly waiting to feel your sister kick for the first time, then squealing when you feel it.
It's standing at the nursery window as they walk your sister in and beaming with excitement.
It's sharing toys, and suckers, and cups, and the chicken pox.
It's playing cowboys and indians in the field in front of you.
It's fighting over who holds the cat.
It's pestering each other in the back seat on road trips until Dad pulls the car over.
It's swimming in the yard after a massive rain and the ditch floods.
It's snowball fights.
It's playing baseball in the yard.
It's go-cart rides on the go-cart Dad built for us.
It's trips to the farm and laughing at each other as we tiptoe in the freezing water.
It's fighting and arguing one minute and then laughing at the other's joke the next.
It's saying you'll catch her when she goes down the slide into the 6 foot pool without a life jacket and then freezing as she bobs up and down and the lifeguard comes and gets her.
It's sitting on her and farting on her head.
It's holding her by the arm so she can't leave your room while simultaneously yelling "Mom, she won't get out of my room!".
It's throwing her favorite baby doll and breaking it.
It's laughing with them when they're hysterically laughing at you for falling and busting your shin on the footboard of the bed and you're trying to decide whether to laugh or cry.
It's laughing when they bring it up at family gatherings that you still have said dent in your shin.
It's telling her that when mom slams the door shut to yank her tooth out that it won't hurt, although you screamed like a baby when Mom did it to you.
It's introducing them to your favorite music and then getting mad when they mess with your boombox (oh wait, your Ipod, sorry, forgot we weren't still in the 80's).
It's watching cartoons together on Saturday mornings and arguing over who has to get up to change the channel (yeah, that was an 80's thing too).
It's sharing a bed until you're 13.
It's slip 'n slide birthday parties in the backyard and seeing who can slide the farthest.
It's having ducks and rabbits and squirrels and coons as pets.
It's hating the babysitter and that she always fed us hominy, then going to the bathroom to flush said hominy down the toilet..... and getting caught.
It's co-owning and bottle feeding a calf named Baby Norman and long after he was grown, still having him suck on your fingers like a baby.
It's crying when Baby Norman gets sold.
It's posing for pictures with Dad as he field dresses the deer he just killed.
It's being excited when the other shoots his/her first deer.... or chokes it to death.
It's being furious when someone picks on your baby brother or sister.
It's finding said person and punching them so hard they say "She hits like a %@*# freight train".
It's cheering her own as she gets in her first fist fight when she's finally had enough of the neighborhood bully and gives her the beat down of her life.
It's being happy for her when she's voted Fall Festival Queen and when she takes a nap, decorating the house to surprise her and as a way to surprise Mom and Dad when they walk in from work.
It's helping her sell raffle tickets and baked goodies.
It's laughing uncontrollably when they bring up the time you screamed bloody murder in the middle of the night when Dad was out of town, and Mom runs in the room with the gun fearing an intruder was in the house only to be met with "Foot cramp!! Foot cramp!!!"
It's being in the same Spanish class in high school and dreading when the teacher passes out test papers because you feel sorry when the other doesn't do as well. Then saying "It's okay, an 83 is still good" while you hold your 97 in hand.
It's being a slob so they can be excited to come to your house and clean for you, thinking it's cool to hang out with their big sis/big bro and his friends.
It's attending their high school graduation and cheering for them as they walk across the stage.
It's attending their college graduation and sitting through all of it, or you know, leaving early for the farm.
It's crying when she gets married and moves away.
It's being a part of each other's weddings.
It's being there when your nieces and nephews are born and adopted and coming to visit them.
It's holding each other next to the casket as you say the hard goodbyes.
It's sobbing when you pack up and move away, knowing your move hurts them as much as it does you.
It's encouraging them on the hard days and rejoicing with them on the good.
It's phone calls and texts checking in on each other and laughing at something funny your parents did.
It's being the Godparents to your nieces and nephews.
It's being excited about Thanksgiving and Christmas because you know that hopefully means everyone being together again.
It's tears and laughter, joy and sorrow, prayers for each other, and simply being there.
So you want to know what it means to be a big brother or big sister?
In every season and phase of life, just be there. Love them. Defend them. Be happy for them. Pray for them. And you'll never go wrong.