When Parents Leave

When we were growing up we had enough of us that at one point our parents didn’t have to get babysitters.  The older siblings watched the younger siblings.  Once the oldest reached a certain age, and the rest of us followed by getting older, there was always someone to watch over someone else.

I don’t know how wise it was for our parents to always entrust the younger siblings welfare and well being to the older sibling.   I am pretty sure there was some disadvantage if the younger one infuriated the older one.  Or the older one was already infuriated because they had to watch the younger one.

Despite the questionable  brilliance of this plan we made it through.  We may not always have been the best babysitter.  But we didn’t do too bad as siblings.  If we hurt one another it was something we could survive.  If someone else hurt us, we had support.

I think it’s a plan that many parents put in to place without even thinking.   They start the siblings babysitting for one another.  Watching over them.

When the parents leave they entrust the siblings with one another’s care.  Hoping this will add to the basic formula of family love and function.  Family takes care of one another.

Our parents left us.  Our parents worked.  Our parents ran their own business.  They needed to sleep.  I was watched over by my older brothers.  To be quite honest they sucked at baby sitting.  They were quite bossy and demanding.  I, on the other, hand was more likely a nurturing and devoted baby sitter to my younger siblings.  Just don’t ask #8 she has crazy, made up stories.

I have children.  And I did the same thing.  Entrusted them in one another’s care when it was appropriate and they could handle it.  I saw my older daughter pluck live bees out of her little sister’s hair when they were ambushed by the little stingers. I thought it was one of the bravest things I ever saw.  I witnessed them stand up for one another and defend one another in the face of an outsider.   And then behind closed doors give one another “what for” for whatever stupid thing they had done.

Our parents want us protected.  They want us safe.  They want us loved.  And to be able to leave us they want to make sure their children’s world is full of support.

Then parents leave.  All parents leave.  They have no choice.

And now I watch a group of siblings who surround one of their own.  They watch over him.  They talk to him.  They encourage him.  They laugh for him.  They pray for him.  They sit with him.  They wait for him.  They’ve not left him alone.  They’ve been with him for twenty-four hours a day.  Seven days a week.  The clock starts on day 18 in just a few minutes.

There is something to this plan.  Their parents would be proud.  They know that when they left there would always be someone to watch over someone else.

It’s what I want for my children.  It’s what I would want for and from my siblings.

It’s what we all would want.

If we needed watched over.

When our parents leave.