A Sister for an Only Child

I am an only child. I think I fit all the stereotypes of an only child; I’m spoilt, I like my own way – I don’t like to share and I adore my own company. I never felt sad about being the only child in the house. I never felt lonely. I never felt as though I was missing out. At Christmas I had a hundred presents under the tree and I got my mum’s undivided attention. All was pretty good in my life – I had no complaints.

But I did have a cousin. Her name is Ellie. Unless she’s in trouble – then it’s Eleanor.

I’m on the left

She had long straight blonde hair like the princesses in Disney films – while I had untamed curls in a boyish cut. She wore beautiful dresses while I ran about in shorts and she was confident while I was painfully shy.

bridesmaids

When we were little we spent pretty much every single weekend together. I stayed at her house and went to church with her on a Sunday morning. We ate mountains of Ice cream and watched Beetlejuice till we knew every line. We could re-enact the whole of The Lion King. When we went to the beach she would sit on a rock and sing “Part of Your World” in the style of Ariel – I was Flounder.

probably talking about a little mermaid

We were obsessed with East 17, Disney and singing and dancing. I played on her Nintendo and we belted out “You’re so Vain” on her karaoke machine. When she stayed at my house we would giggle so loudly at night that my mum would constantly shout whisper at us “The neighbours! The neighbours!” which made us howl even more. We used to steal my dad’s letter opener and pretend we were Indiana Jones.

We used to believe that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were real and below every drain we saw. We repeatedly watched Tremors and ate bon bons. We went swimming and pretended to be French in the changing rooms nattering in our made up Allo Allo gibberish, “Regarde les bibliotheque couson Ellie!”

oh to have this figure again

We watched Romeo and Juliet again. and again. and again. We talked about boys.

We went on holidays together to Keycamp in France nearly every summer. We took her to Greece and my uncle and auntie took me to Greece too! Every single October half term her parents took us to Devon where we stayed on a Stoney beach trying to terrify each other for Halloween. We always dressed up   – it was the tradition.

As we grew up I started to become overwhelmingly jealous of her. She probably doesn’t know this to this day. To me she was always the pretty one. Boys liked her, reader: they did not like me. To give you a sense of how pretty she was, once in Greece a boy drove ACROSS Kefalonia (an entire island) to track our car after looking at her. My mum ran around shooing men away from her; “She’s fourteen! Get lost!” No one noticed me.

I wished I could be just like Ellie. The only thing I was better at was eating everything off my plate – something I’m still great at to this day.

As we got older, got boyfriends and went to University we drifted apart and she settled in Leeds. Of course we saw each other at the Christmas do – or on our birthdays – or for her wedding – but we weren’t as close as we were.

When, five years ago, my now husband and I wanted to move from Birmingham – I picked Leeds. “Ellie is there” I thought!

Over the next five years we saw more and more of each other and I finally feel like we are back to where we were. I love her with all my heart. I can tell her anything. She’s the most generous person I know and also completely potty in the most endearing way. My little boy idolises her. Special Auntie Ellie.

So even though I never got a sister – I sort of did. Ellie is my sister – and she always will be.

Yesterday she took me out for birthday drinks, because now we drink wine on roof terraces and talk about adulting. Underneath we will always be those two girls, drinking Ice cream soda singing the song from Beetlejuice, making up dance routines to ‘We are Family’.  I’m so thankful this only child got a sister after all.

my wedding day

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To the kids being bullied – One Day

stephanie siviter

To the kids being bullied,

I know that today the bullies matter. I know that right now you can’t see anything else. I know that you think that all you are is a kid being bullied and all they are – are bullies.

One day your life won’t be about school. One day you’ll venture so much further than the school gates. One day you’ll travel. Because you can! You can do whatever you want.

I want you to imagine you’re up in a plane one day. You take off and start to pass cloud after cloud. You look down and see people. They get smaller and smaller and smaller until you can barely see them. It strikes you that they look a bit like ants. As you pass over the tiny houses and the land it will dawn on you how huge the world is and how tiny people are in contrast.

You will work, you will holiday, you will laugh, you will dance, you will eat delicious meals and listen to beautiful music. You might meet a partner. You will love. You will be loved. You will be confided in.

One day your partner might tell you they were bullied when they were young and you’ll say “me too! I know how you feel.” You will show empathy to each other and shrug your shoulders at the knowledge that sometimes really crappy things happen to really good people.

One day you might even have a family of your own. They might come home from school one day and say they’re being bullied. You will tell them you understand and it happened to you.

You will explain that they are purely tiny ants in the grand scheme of things and the world is so much bigger than they know. You will explain that one day they won’t matter. You will explain that one day things will be so much better for them. You know because you went through it. You survived. You thrived.

And where are they? The bullies? It doesn’t matter. Your life is so much bigger than they ever were.

One day. One day…. hold on in there.