I have three older brothers, the nearest to me is 9 years older. I feel that I was brought up closer to an only child than to a child with siblings. When you have that much of an age difference you don't play or socialise with your siblings in the same way. Perhaps the difference in sex played a part as well. By the time I was 10 my nearest brother was already 19 and you don't share a great deal in common, the gap is too great.
When I became the parent of two girls I wondered if I'd know how to manage them. A friend of mine who is one of 5 lost her only sister (who was 31 at the time) to leukemia four years ago, she told me that there's nothing like a sister and that I was very lucky to have two girls and for them to have each other. She, and other friends I know, have actually grown up as friends to their siblings and have gone to pubs together, done the things I have only done with friends. It's a strange concept to me.
Although there is 3 years difference between our girls, they have loved each other from the start and it seems to have just found its own balance. Ella is an extremely patient, generous, loving and giving child, Leila is the lovable larrikin and the cheeky one. Leila may be 3 years younger but she most definitely pushes her bigger sister around - it's quite something. I've had to have talks with Ella about her not letting Leila be the boss!
Watching them this afternoon, Ella tickling her sister and Leila laughing so hard I thought she'd be sick, I realised that for the most part they will just figure things out themselves. They start with a foundation of love, they will be taught respect and hopefully that leads to the like of a sibling similar to that which we hold for our dearest friends. I know they say you can't choose your family, I can only hope that if my girls could the choice would still always be each other.