Sunday, June 14, 2009

Life Lessons on a Saturday Night

In the interest of time and a DVD, I'll make this short.

Tonight, I had a revelation that my views on my Middle Sister have been clouded by judgment. Judgment from me as well as my parents. And by "as well as" I mean probably "largely because of." She's made mistakes throughout middle and high school: bad decisions, wrong crowd of friends. She's a good kid, she just has a lot of defenses, a lot of attitude, and probably, a lot expected of her (my being the Prodigal Daughter and all--I'm joking but I'm serious). There have been skids that have made her seem--and sometimes be?--untrustworthy, and for a long time, it seemed like issue after issue. The best thing was for me to keep her somewhat at length so her destructiveness wouldn't take an emotional toll on me. I just hated the fighting, the atmosphere, the tension.

Since I've been home for the summer, she's kept her nose clean (but NOT, dear God, her bedroom), but you'd never guess it from the way my parents interrogate her every time she steps outside the house after 7pm. I usually thought nothing of it, surely there was some indiscretion she was still being punished for, right? Tonight, I even tried to talk to her about it, and how she responded really made me think. I asked her why she wasn't willing to alter her behavior to regain our parents' trust. Telling us she's going to a party as she walks out the door and being vague about who's throwing it would breed suspicion from the most lax of parents (hopefully). Which I told her, which she understood. But then she pointed out that no matter what she does, they treat her the same. There has been no incident directly involving her that I know of, yet as I think about it, but now that I think about it, the antagonizing from my parents would seriously suggest otherwise.

As I drove back home after dropping her off, I really thought about it. My parents can only see my sister for what she was, not what she is trying to do to move on/improve. And sadly, I realized that I was guilty of the same thing because of our own relationship. I was so ready to believe the worst of her, not even considering that perhaps she was changing but we refused to see it. I can't believe I missed it, how blind I've been, perhaps because my mom sometimes turned to me for advice/to rant about Middle Sister's latest shenanigans. I had liked to think of myself as a mediator of sorts, but I really was a translator, a negotiator for one party only. Now that I think about it, whenever there's a conflict, I try to gently explain my parents' rationale, however faulty, to the offending child, while mentally checking out of the situation. I thought that was my job as a daughter, the oldest daughter, to be an apostle, preaching the words of those who I was supposed to be loyal to first and foremost: my parents. In most cases, I really do think that a kid must follow his or her parents' wishes ("as long as you live in this house!"), but as we've gotten older, there has been slight room to haggle. It's time for the haggling to benefit both parties, not just the most powerful.

Don't get me wrong, Middle Sister still can be, ahem, difficult, but she and Little Sister are indeed the apples of my eye. I owe it to her to start being in her corner publicly, not just in my own head to make myself feel better. Wow. Looks like I'm not the Prodigal Daughter after all.

Well, in this case.

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