As we await the arrival of Richmond Baby #2, I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that our gorgeous girl Allegra is about to become a big sister and I’ve been thinking a lot about my own sibling relationship too: I’m a big sister and my little sis is 5 years younger than me, which makes her 32, although in my head she is still somewhere around 12.
My relationship with my sister has always been close and it is a relationship and a friendship that I am extremely thankful for having in my life. We were two peas in a pod growing up and I can probably count on one hand the times we’ve ever had a cross word or falling out (obviously because she normally accepts that I’m right, what with being the older one and all that…).
I was 5 years old when my little sis came into the world, so much older than Allegra will be when her own little sister makes an appearance (she’ll be just shy of 2 years old). I can’t honestly say I remember that far back, but my mum tells me that from the minute she came home from the hospital I became a little mother to her and took on the role of her fierce protector and guardian!
What I do remember about us growing up is that we always played well together, becoming the best of friends, and were always happy in each other’s company from a very early age. We would make up our own little games to play together – one of which, based on “it”, which we re-named “don’t smack me my girl” (you had to be there…!), saw us chasing each other all over the house trying desperately not to be the last one “tagged” and as we’d hit each other – gentle taps at first, escalating to full on wallops by the end of the game, we’d shout “don’t smack me my girl” and then fall about laughing hysterically. As I said, you probably had to be there… but even now, aged 37 and 32, we’d still not be averse to the odd game
One of my favourite memories of the two of us is as teenagers, when we went on a road-trip holiday to Italy with our parents. We entertained ourselves in the back of the car by grabbing the video-camera and filming our own music video of us signing along to Supergrass’ “Alright (we are young)”, which featured lots of close-up/face right in the camera shots and much laughter. We still have that video somewhere, I must try to unearth it because it would be hilarious to watch all these years later.
In fact, growing up the two of us had a shared love of music, although my sister was always more of a genuine muso than me (she loved Smashing Pumpkins and Oasis, I was always rather fond of Peter Andre… although she does concede that Mysterious Girl is a quality pop-song). I’m incredibly proud of my sister for many reasons, but one of which is what she has achieved in her career, which is in the music industry and at which she has worked bloody bloody hard to get where she is today. But it’s not just an appreciation of great music she is blessed with, she’s also an incredibly talented musician herself.
Growing up my sister was far more dedicated than I ever was at learning the piano and an assortment of other instruments: she used to practice before school for goodness sake, without being asked! I was still lounging in bed with a pillow over my head refusing to get up! As a result, she’s a brilliant pianist and studied music at university, while I can just about play chopsticks. As kids, this meant that we would spend hours at the piano with her playing various Disney tunes and the two of us singing duets to our hearts content: A Whole New World (Aladdin) and Beauty & The Beast (sung in the style of Celine Dion and Peabo Bryce!) were two firm favourites.
Throughout my life, my sister has been an incredible friend and support to me and it’s funny how, even thought she is my little sister, sometimes she is wise beyond her years and I have turned to her for sound advice and reassurance (particularly pre Richmond Daddy days in matters of the heart!). I try to do the same for her whenever she turns to me and I hope that she knows she could come to me about anything and I’d always be there for her in any situation.
Despite my sister being all grown-up now, I still struggle to see her as a fully-fledged adult, because in my head of course she’ll always be my little sis (or “pea-head” as I like to call her, affectionately you understand, on account of her perfectly round little head). But of course she is a fully-fledged adult (albeit it once who still gets ID-ed in bars on account of her looking not a day over 16), with a proper grown-up and very responsible job and a life of her own that she has successfully and independently carved out for herself.
We may not get to see each other as often as we’d like or even talk on the phone as frequently as we should – on account of her travelling a lot and the two of us leading busy lives in different ways – but we’re still as close as ever and absolutely love her to bits and adore her completely (despite my continual frustration with the fact that we are born of the same parents and yet she can eat what she likes, do no exercise, and still remain a size 0, even in her early 30s!).
I have been feeling quite guilty about bringing a new baby into the Richmond house, guilty in that I almost feel like I’m cheating on Allegra in some way by adding to our family with a new child who will divert some of mummy and daddy’s attention – until now 100% focused on her – to another and whose arrival will no doubt change the dynamic of our family, which will ultimately affect her: Allegra’s world is about to be rocked and she has no proper idea of this really and this worries me and makes me feel kind of bad in some way.
But, perhaps I’ve been looking at this the wrong way around. Yes, Allegra will have to adjust to the new dynamic of our family and we will do everything we can to try and minimise the disruption and affect on her, but ultimately she is going to have to get used to having a new baby around the place. But, the positive of this is of course that she is being given the chance to become a big sister and to experience what – if it’s anything like my own experience – will be an incredible new friendship in her life as she builds her relationship with her own little sister, which I hope will enrich her life in the way that having a little sister has enriched mine.
Hopefully giving Allegra a little sister will be the best gift we could ever give her (and just in case she needs some gentle persuading at the start, we’re planning on buying her something like this as a gift from the new baby to get the ball rolling!).