Thursday, April 7, 2011

Little Sister

When I was five years old, my mother sat me down for a very important conversation.

“Ivy, sweetie, you know that you and your brother and I have always been a little family, kind of like the three musketeers. But, actually, there were really four musketeers - the entire plot of the Alexander Dumas novel The Three Musketeers was about how the fourth musketeer, D’Artagnen, joins the ranks of the other three. And in the 1973 Michael York movie versions of the three musketeers, the plot was broken up into two shorter feature length films - The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers, reflecting this very idea.

“The point of which is, I’m pregnant, and you’re going to have a little brother or sister.”

I paused, blinking repeatedly.

When this information eventually settled into the depths of my developing brain, my thoughts turned to one inevitable declaration: I wanted a little sister, NOT a little brother.

As the only girl in my entire extended family, I was desperate for an ally and for companionship. I needed another girl to swing the group dynamics my way: instead of killing things, we could play with dolls. Instead of ‘pretend we’re under military siege in the cemetery,’ we could try, ‘quiet craft time with Mr. Dressup in the living room.’ And most importantly, instead of ‘making fun of Ivy because she’s a girl and we’re not,’ we could play ‘Shut the hell up, boys! There are TWO girls now!’

When informed that this was not something my mother could control, I turned my attention to the person in charge of such things: God.

In those formative years of my early childhood, my concept of God was this: God was a magical, benevolent figure who looked similar to Santa Clause, except that he wore white, not red, and was Real. He spent his days living invisibly inside the clouds and casting magical spells to grant wishes to those who were good and believed in Him. He could also read your thoughts.

God liked nothing more than to help good little girls like me, so long as we remained faithful, made our beds, and didn’t talk back too much to our mothers. So I started wishing very hard for God to give me a little sister, confident in his ability to come through, so long as I never doubted.

This was not easy - my mother, concerned over my newfound fanaticism, tried to inform me that, even if I prayed every day, God might not come through with a baby girl. I scoffed at her apostate ways and prayed harder, determined to be heard.

When my mother went in for an ultrasound, the technician asked if she wanted to know the sex or be surprised. My mother, tellingly aware of God’s true nature, winced in reply: “It’s a boy, right?”

The fateful day arrived when my soon-to-be sibling burst forth from my mother’s vaginal cavity with a whole bunch of blood and mucus and amniotic fluid in what has to be the grossest sentence ever in the history of the world.

And my new sibling was not, in fact, a boy.

And so began the inevitable decline of my childhood years from my station as “sadness-prone youngest child and only girl,” to my new role as “resentful, bitter middle child who is no longer special in any way.”

All thanks to my little sister, and the broken condom that brought her into this world. Amen.