Last year my daughter, Clementine, went away for four months to study abroad. When she came back her little brother Clyde was so happy she was home (really) that he dashed out of the house to greet her, at which point Clementine screamed and ran away. It wasn’t that she wasn’t happy to see him, too—it was just that while she was gone he had grown about four inches, and it was just past midnight, and from her perspective all she knew was that this big, strange guy had just run up out of nowhere and tried to grab her.
I thought it was funny.
I also thought it was funny the next morning, when Clyde stood next to her in the kitchen and smirked down at her to say, “Hi, Shorty.” And I thought it was funny when I got to draw the new lines on the door frame growth chart and Clyde’s new line was so much higher than Clementine’s. In fact, I thought it was absolutely hysterical right up until the point where Clyde grew another few inches seemingly over night, and suddenly he was taller than me. And then it wasn’t so damn funny anymore.
Logically I knew it was bound to happen, which is why my head reacted to the whole situation so calmly. However, my heart only knows about logic from a distance, and therefore my heart still reacted to it all by standing around screaming Holy !@#$. (Figuratively, obviously.) So yeah: as “normal” as I know all this is, the fact that Clyde is now taller than me is moderately freaking me out.
Not that it really matters in the grand scheme of things: it has been well over a decade since I could settle any arguments with him simply by picking him up and carrying him to his room. Still, it was nice to know that for a while there at least I still had the option. (Although, I suppose technically I still do—there’s always the fireman’s carry.) And, hey, at least this way I’m closer all the time to having someone around who can see all the dust on the top of the cabinets (oh, wait: that’s not a good thing).
Clementine, of course, after her initial freak out, is now handling the whole thing better than I am. I’d like to think it’s because she’s had more time to adjust, but the real reason is probably that she’s just that much cleverer. Within a week of returning home and seeing the new lay of the land (or perhaps height of the land would be more apt) she had reassessed the situation and come up with a solid plan for her continued sibling world domination: for every inch Clyde grows, Clementine adds another chapter to her magnum opus, How to Destroy Little Brothers for Fun and Profit. (That might not actually be the name of her book—it’s just what I call it in my head.)
This means that even though Clyde has now started to tower over her physically, she still stands head and shoulders above him when it comes to psychological torment. He might be able to pick her up now (literally), but with just a few well chosen words she can just as easily knock him down. It’s a sister thing, one that is fueled, no doubt, by the fact that they go to the same school, and so she therefore has about eight more hours of material a day to work with. And work with it she does: she uses the material she gathers at home to keep him in his place at school, and the material she gathers at school to torment him at home. It’s merciless. It’s cruel. It’s diabolical. And, ultimately, it works.
Now if only she would share her tricks with me.