There are certain moments in life when you look at people differently. Boy, girl, friend, family, lover or stranger. Maybe it’s a negative view and you cut ties with them because you don’t like who they are. Maybe it’s the moment you fall in love or fall out of it. I happens at any time with any person and all you can do is take it in and figure out how you’re going to be with them from then on.
This happened with me recently with my 8 year old little sister. Twice.
I have never told her anything incredibly personal to me about my life. All she knows is mostly everything she sees. She’s mature in many ways and sometimes I think she’s more mature than I ever was when I was 8 years old. But there are still times when she is just that- an 8 year old, a child. Still in elementary school and too young for certain things and certain details of things.
But one thing she seems to have a working mind with is relationships. Maybe it’s all the T.V she watches or certain movies my mom lets her watch when she’s home. But my little sister was the first person in my house to know of my former breakup with my boyfriend. She didn’t tell anyone.
We were sitting at the dining room table and I was helping her with her homework when my phone began to buzz. Teasingly, she asked “Is that X?” (Let’s call my boyfriend X).
I turned my phone off and told her that it wouldn’t be him anymore for a while. That was when she looked at me, homework completely forgotten, and asked me what happened. I don’t know what it was that compelled me to tell her. She liked him and enjoyed always having him over. I didn’t want her to feel like she was losing a friend, too. But I told her anyway because I felt like I could. As I told her, in vague details, I felt my eyes beginning to tear up and I rushed through my last thought.
She was silent for a while, watching me sniffling and trying to not let a tear fall. (I hate crying, especially in front of her). And when she spoke, the first thing that came out of her mouth was “I’m going to hurt him.”
She had what looked like anger flooding her eyes and it took me by surprise. She’d started calling him pineapple head (X’s last name is practically pineapple in Spanish) and began asking if X left me for another girl. Thoughts I never thought she had. But she hated seeing me almost cry for him and it made her angry.
In that moment she wasn’t my 8 year old little sister; the one going off to third grade in August and whose big problems are whether or not her play dates with her friends are going to be on sunny days. She was just my sister, feeling protective of me while I was hurting.
The other day, a couple of weeks after X and I got back together, I figured it wasn’t right of me to keep this from her. (The only people in my family that know are my older sister and mom. Trying to ease into it again).
So I told her I needed to tell her something and that she could tell me whatever she felt about it. When I was finished, again the silence stood between us, and I saw it on her face that she was trying to process it. I wondered if telling her was a good idea, if it only confused her on her idea of relationships. I felt bad for tainting such an early thought of hers on something so grown up.
I asked her if she was mad with a small voice. Suddenly, her opinion became incredibly important to me. She nodded and said a little. So I hugged her and told her that she will forever be my #1 because I felt like it was something she needed to be reminded of. Finally, she sat down and looked at me, elbows on the dining table, and asked me how it happened.
Again I saw her as much older than an 8 year old. She was still very hesitant about the whole thing but she just nodded and said okay. Knowing how close she was with him before the breakup, to get X on her good graces again, I told her that he would do something to make it up for her. At this she smiled and gave me a thumbs up before returning back to her shows in the living room, returning to her 8 year old self who could be bought with ice cream.
There aren’t many things I share with her, because I don’t think she’ll understand them. But she understands more than I thought and it’s heartwarming to know that I can now count on her.