Every morning from Monday to Thursday, Lillian comes into my room and stage-whispers “LIZZIE! Oh crap.” It’s less a whisper and more of a STAGE, if you know what I mean. This pleasant good-morning greeting means that she has about twelve minutes to get to driver’s ed in Watervliet, and Mom is too busy to take her. This is my cue to moan, groan, or otherwise assure her that the lump in the bed is actually alive and capable of driving her. (Which is questionable, to say the least.) Once I’ve realized that it’s morning and I’m awake, I sit up and look at the clock.
Now it’s my turn to panic. I’ve never taken a few hours to get ready, but it usually takes me ten minutes. Not anymore!! I fall out of bed – literally fall out of it, at least this morning – grab for a jacket, change my pajama shorts, and head down the stairs. (Brushing teeth is for the weak.) I’ve never been a makeup artiste by any means, but on good days I can put on mascara. At least good days that aren’t driver’s ed days. I tried one morning, for about thirty seconds, and stuck myself in the eye with the mascara wand. I wish I was one of those girls who could look completely put together in less than an hour, but instead I look like I’m heading straight for the Walmart history books. Greasy, flattened hair, a big disgusting smile, pajamas, dirty glasses. I need to start sleeping in a shirt that says “I Woke Up Like This” and instead of being a stretch of the truth as it is for most people, it’ll be more of a kind warning to people that might glimpse me outside my car.
Since I’m in a great mood and the day is nice and we’re not running late at all, I can greet my brothers cheerfully. Most mornings I just mumble something. This morning it was a yell, because I forgot my phone upstairs and climbing up the stairs is too hard for me to manage. Someone with younger legs (and more motivation?) can climb the stairs faster than me.
I think my sister drives with me to learn what NOT to do, in fifty steps. This morning I was so busy informing another driver what he did wrong to remember that I had to turn. Not my finest moment, I assure you. So obviously I made an illegal u-turn at the first possible moment, since I was already doing so well. Every morning I break several speed-limit laws in several different cities, but she doesn’t seem to mind…..unless I turn corners too fast and send her driver’s ed book, balanced carefully on the dashboard, flying straight for her face. Oh, the joys of driving when I’m not really awake at all.
When I drop her off at the school, she looks so poised and grown-up and ready to take on the day. (No, she’s not wearing pajamas like me.) I take a moment to sniff sentimentally before realizing the car behind me is waiting for me to leave. Oops. The rest of the drive home I wonder if I’m getting judged by all the other moms and siblings who get to see me pull squealing out of the school driveway.
It’s her birthday today, and I can’t believe she’s fifteen. When did this happen? (Cue Taylor Swift’s super-old song, Fifteen. Although I’m gonna keep Lillian far away from all those senior boys. Ugh.)
So even when I fit the description of a classic Walmart shopper to a T and she wakes me up at the crack of
doom dawn every morning, I still appreciate the short time we get to talk in the car. Because I know it’s only so long before she’ll be all grownup and really busy with college and jobs and maybe even a husband and kids. Her birthday every year really puts things into perspective, because she’s the only little sister I’ll ever have and she’s getting not-so-little and maybe even taller than me. (I think she was actually supposed to be the older sister around here, because when I’m not around she’s good at ordering people around.)
Also, whenever we’re watching our TV shows together, she’ll look at me freaking out over a character and calmly tell me a huge spoiler. (As in, “i KNOW they’re so cute together! i really wish they had ended up together!” or the more subtle, “he dies! didn’t you know that?!” and then she’ll observe my reaction with glee.) Every day I’m thankful for her. I always wanted to be able to be witty and sarcastic and make everyone laugh, like she can. I’ve never been able to come up with a hilarious comeback in two seconds, like she can. I’m not good at getting up early and making sure I’m all put together and look nice, like she is. I usually wear whatever I have on hand, be it hand-me-down or thrift store find, but she takes the time to pick out an outfit she really likes.
All that to say, I’m so, so proud of her. She’s growing into a gorgeous and amazing young woman. I’m just glad I get to be her sister.
Family is a strange and beautiful thing.
May your journey be ever onward (and try not to get distracted yelling at other drivers),