"I love you Edie."
"Lub you so much Nenée."
"Have fun at nursery Edie. And I'll see you when I get back from school. And we can play together then, ok?"
"Ok, Nenée. Edie see Nenée after cool. Lub you."
And so went the exchange between the two sisters yesterday morning, as it does two mornings a week when Edie goes to nursery. When she's not at nursery and she's at home with me, Renée's presence is sorely missed.
"Nenée at cool."
"Yes, Edie. Renée's at school."
"Nenée come home soon."
"Yes, darling. Renée will be home soon."
This conversation runs on a loop throughout the day because Edie's tiny 2-year-old world does not exist without her big sister around. And despite the hair-pulling and biting, Renée adores Edie with such a genuine passion that she will forgive even the cruellest displays of toddlerdom (such as drawing on her newly-coloured in picture of Dora The Explorer or pulling the ear off her favourite teddy bear, or the worst crime of all - stealing her coveted last piece of Nutella on toast). For all these wrongs, Edie is forgiven in a heartbeat. They are as close as two sisters can be and for this I am so thankful.
You see, I never had a sister, and although I never felt the need for one (probably because I was far too selfish to share anything), giving birth to two girls and witnessing their bond developing and becoming stronger each day, makes me wonder whether there is a void in my life as a result. Growing up with an older brother, my world was dominated by the pacing of freezing touchlines as I witnessed him getting bashed about the rugby field on a Winter morning, or competitive games of Football and Cricket in the garden. There was no lacking of a brother/sister bond, but our lives were spent at opposite ends of our own worlds. And as much as I adore him now, I do wonder whether if I'd had a sister, things would have been different.
Recent research has shown that sisters provide no end of psychological benefits for each other. The knowledge that a friend may come and go, but a sister is for keeps, must be a bonus when dealing with the inevitable teenage friendship fallout. In a recent article in a women's glossy magazine (yes I'm not quite sure how I found the time to read it either), five famous women and their sisters were asked to talked about their relationships and what strikes me about each and every couple is that despite disagreements, arguments, differences of opinions and beliefs, sisters are always there. Author Esther Freud says of her sister Bella, "she protected me, but I was also her ally - it worked very well." And Bella on Esther "When she was 7 she was being bullied by a boy in her class and I went and threatened him." Other comments range from "I cherish our closeness and that non-judgemental love" to "I've realised that nobody's got it figured out, so we might as well muck-in and support each other." It's comments like this that make me feel happy for my daughters. Happy and relieved.
Having two girls you are inevitably asked the same questions over and over.
- Are you going to try for a third so you can have a boy?
- Don't you want a boy?