I am convinced that “sistering” should be a verb. It’s an activity if there ever was one. Here is how I would define it:
To sister: similar to mothering but with less authority and more sarcasm. One who sisters is less cautious and more honest than one who is simply acting as a friend.
To sister is to protect, to defend, to correct, to teach, to occasionally manipulate, to fully embrace even if you don’t always approve. To sister is to be insanely jealous from time to time but never without also being completely proud of and excited for the other. To sister is to compete, to annoy, to enjoy, to make laugh and to let cry.
This little guy made me a sister when I was three years and nine days old. I don’t remember a time when he wasn’t around.
I have never had a sister. But I have been well sistered by a few dear friends throughout the years. The friends that sister are the ones who tell you when there is something on your face. They tell you when you are acting like a fool. They know you well enough to know when not to speak and when to speak even though it’s going to make you mad. They know when you have a headache by the way you squint your eyes. They know how badly that other person’s flippant comment hurt. They won’t wait for you to admit it. They invite themselves over, and they eat your food and borrow your hairspray before you even know what they’re looking for. They may make fun of you, but you know you’re safe in their mocking, that they would take out anyone who took them seriously.
It’s a tough job. But somebody’s gotta do it.
I’ve had a few interesting conversations recently about birth order and also about the difference between sisters of sisters and sisters of only brothers. I’m one of those sisters of only a brother. Most of my close friends are sisters of only sisters. Only a few have sistered brothers, and only a very few of those have sistered only brothers.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about it. And here are a few things I’ve learned from sistering a brother:
- Mocking sarcasm is a form of highest affection. You laugh the hardest at the people that you love.
- Silence can be sincere. You can enjoy someone’s presence without exchanging any words. Also, if you don’t know what to say, you really can choose to say nothing.
- It is possible to simultaneously watch up to three movies on television. (I said possible. Not pleasant.)
- “Not bad” is a high compliment.
- How to ignore really annoying things (and people when they do those things).
- Just because someone isn’t crying, it doesn’t mean they aren’t sad.
- Getting dirty doesn’t kill you. Neither do bugs or reptiles. (But still…Ew.)
- Being very direct is a gift to the other person.
- If someone can’t remember what you were wearing, it probably means you looked good. (People Brothers remember when you looked like an idiot.)
- Offering a distraction can be as comforting and compassionate as offering a sympathetic ear. It is often more comforting and compassionate than unsolicited advice.
- Something may make sense even if you can’t understand it.
- North. South. East. West. I still don’t know why it matters. But some people want to know.
- How to find out the answer without actually asking the question.
- If you want to spend time with someone, you might have to do something you don’t love doing. (I am very good at shooting guns. I do not much like it.)
- Arm punches, headlocks and kicks to the back of the knees are no less loving than hugs…and much more frequent.
Being brothered is not as sentimental as being sistered, but it’s just as dear.