It started with a gift.
My daughter has been asking for a ballerina outfit for a few years now. A “leo-tUDE and fluffy tutu, please?”, she would beg. Growing up, I also wanted to feel like a graceful swan and twirl around until I lifted into the sky. It didn’t take much inner voice convincing when I saw that pale pink dance costume at Target.
After school, my girl saw the outfit on the table as she dropped her backpack on the rug. “Is this mine?”, she asked, picking up the tulle skirt with spots of shiny silver. I smiled as her brother encouraged her to put it on.
5 minutes later…she was covered in bandages, her face streaked with tears.
Once she had her tutu adjusted, I asked her to come outside so I may take pictures. “Twirl!”, her brother repeated, in which she complied. She posed, spun, and lifted her arms as she had seen many times in movies and shows. “Twirl!!”, he brother kept encouraging and she did. She twirled, lost her footing on the sidewalk and landed face down on the hard cement.
Her whole body collapsed in sorrow. “I’m not a good dancer!”, she moaned, tears heavy on her cheeks. She had scraped her chin and cheek, both knees and the palms of her hands but it was her heart that was the most damaged.
My son started crying.
While tending to my girl with kisses, hydrogen peroxide and words to calm, my son came and hugged my daughter. He told her that he was the reason she fell. She told him that she fell because she wanted to twirl. He apologized and she hugged him saying it was okay and that she loved him.
I just stood there, trash wrappings of bandages balled in my hand. I watched them be siblings. I watched them care for one another. I watched their dynamic.
I watched and I cried.
I have 7 siblings. I’ve never felt the emotions toward them as I see in these two children before me.
My son led his little ballerina sister into the big room. They sat on the couch together and every couple of minutes, he would touch her cheek where the tears fell. He would get up and be silly to make her laugh. He distracted her from her fresh bandages and newly stained leotard. A warm bath and the washing machine can fix the exterior damage but my son was the healer of her heart. She was dancing one minute and falling the next. He told her…
Even big people ballerinas fall. They get hurt too. But they get up. They always get up.
This was the piece of my childhood I never felt as a little girl. A big brother who was by my side when something that feels so big goes so wrong. The amount of unconditional support my 8 year old showed my 5 year old made my heart ache. I missed this part, living with my older brothers, having them protect me… If it did happen, I don’t remember. I’ve forgotten those days in my kinder years and there isn’t evidence to show otherwise. I’ll live here in this moment, feeling the feels as I watch my children live out my sibling wish.
My daughter can say, “When I was 5, he was there.” I can only hope this remains a constant. For now, this is etched in my head for eternity. Even if I can’t remember feeling like this with my own siblings, I can live these minutes with my children. Please don’t let these minutes fade.
After the silly dances had ended, it was just them two. Side-by-side. He had comforted her to slumber and he was adamant to stick by her. So, they fell asleep like this:
Ballerinas will fall. Brothers will be there to pick up ballerinas. Ballerinas live to dance another day. Brothers will be there to watch them dance and encourage them to twirl.
Maybe it’s time to contact my brothers and ask them if they will watch me dance.
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