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Two Decades of Kids and Counting

By Sally Torbey

About this blog: About this blog: I have enjoyed parenting five children in Palo Alto for the past two decades and have opinions about everything to do with parenting kids (and dogs). The goal of my blog is to share the good times and discuss the ...  (More)

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Hope for a thaw between sisters

Uploaded: Feb 27, 2014
How auspicious to release the movie, "Frozen", during a winter when most of the US is shivering and shoveling? For moviegoers suffering through frigid temperatures, slick sidewalks, and drifts of accumulated snow, the personification of the polar vortex as an icy sorceress is very convincing. My eldest daughter, who is surviving her first "real" Midwestern winter, felt panicked and traumatized watching the movie. It is not escapist fair for folks who are wearing long underwear and puffy coats, but a harsh reminder of the weather awaiting them outside the theater.

For me, the movie was auspicious in that I saw it seated between my pre-teen and teenage daughters. I am hopeful that the movie, with its uplifting music and message of the power of sisterly love, might prompt a thaw between them, as their relationship has entered a complicated phase of differing needs and expectations, as well as rivalry.

The relationship of the princesses in the movie reminded me of the trajectory of our daughters' relationship. For many years they were devoted to each other, the toddler adoringly stroking the baby's hand on the car ride home from the hospital, soothing her with a whispering lisp, "don't cwy (sic), baby". They were inseparable playmates spending countless hours playing house, trains or felt storyboards. The younger was bereft when the older went off to school. But now the elder is a teenager with more interest in privacy than play. In the movie, the plaintive song of the younger sister, "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" resonated with me and had me tearing up. It did not help that the personalities of the two sisters in the movie remind me of my daughters, the older sister is serious and reserved, while the younger sister is impetuous and social.

But I love that, despite all evidence to the contrary, the younger sister does not give up on re-establishing a relationship with her older sister. Even after the older one sets an abominable snowman on her! What parent of a teenager cannot identify with such a monster of wrath and irritability? The younger sister persists in part because of her pal, Olaf, the goofy and devoted snowman that was also her sister's creation, and evidence of the love of which she is still capable, but too afraid to let herself feel since she cannot control the icy results of her emotions. In the end, it is through the younger sister's devotion and self-sacrifice that the older sister learns she can "Let it Go", but still control her emotions and powers, and reengage with the world.

I hope through this compelling story, my daughters understand that the relationship of sisters can survive the challenge of ages and stages of life, and, with effort, reemerge stronger.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by GC, a resident of Community Center,
on Feb 27, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Hi Sally,

I think you hit on a "spot" that we can all relate to. Thank you for sharing.

My parents always emphasized that your brothers and sisters are the only people that are with you cradle to grave...it did not make any difference to us but it is certainly true. I can say I love my sister with all my heart but we can both drive each other crazy like no one else can ;). They will get through the phase and be best friends in later life. Hang in there.

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Feb 28, 2014 at 6:16 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Thanks, GC, for reading and commenting. You're right, our siblings can push buttons that no one else can, for better or worse!

Posted by Your Son, a resident of another community,
on Feb 28, 2014 at 8:54 am

Number 4 and Number 5 stop fighting and be nice to each other!!!
-Your Older Brother

Posted by Laura, a resident of another community,
on Feb 28, 2014 at 10:21 am

Another wonderful column, Sally.

As someone with 5 sisters, I can write that these relationships go through many phases, but there is nothing like having a sister(s) to be there for all the ups and downs that life holds. And being there for one another has always been a given in spite of any past challenges.

Posted by LJ, a resident of another community,
on Feb 28, 2014 at 10:47 am

It can be hard to be patient and maintain the long view with family!

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Feb 28, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi Your Son,
I'll pass on your instructions.

Hi Laura,
Yes, it is an incomparable bond.

Hi LJ,
Very true, so many bends in the road and hard to see around most of them!

Posted by MK, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Mar 1, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Great post - as an older sister, it's often hard to accept that my younger sisters are growing up!

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Mar 1, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Thank, MK, for reading and commenting! Yes, younger siblings are "stuck" in our minds at the age they are when we leave for college. It is disconcerting to see how they age when we aren't there to watch it!

Posted by Debbie, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 2, 2014 at 9:35 pm

And the parents need support through the challenges of "ages and stages"! I hope to see Frozen soon.

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Mar 3, 2014 at 7:39 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi Debbie- Go see it soon, with or without daughters in tow!

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