Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Learning from the past part one

I hesitate to bring this up because my siblings all seem to have very healthy self esteem as it is, but lately I can't get them out of my head.

I think it's because we've been watching family movies.  We've been watching the ones from when I was little.  I see Enoch, when he was probably two years old,  putting his horses in Olivia's new doll high chair on Christmas morning.  He looks like an impish and charming troublemaker.  Olivia's infuriated.  She flings the horses at Enoch.  She upends the high chair.  She throws her head back and screams.

And I think, There It Is.  My childhood with those two.  Enoch is still charming.  Olivia is still fiercely defending what matters to her. 

There is also old footage of Tabor.  He looks ridiculously happy as a baby, kicking his legs and grinning for the camera like any little boy would who had three adoring older sisters and an older brother who's so thrilled to have a brother he keeps handing him stick horses.  Ammon was serious and pensive as a baby.  He studied the mobile above his crib, probably figuring out how it was built.

Ammon--in the history of the world, has there ever been a cuter little brother?
The video of me is cringe worthy. From the time I was a third grader on, I ducked my head and covered my face and ran out of the room whenever the camera was on.  I was such a shy and weird kid.

I am still that shy and weird kid I guess, I just do a better job hiding it.  (Hopefully?) 

My siblings show up in our more recent family movies too.  Back when we lived in Connecticut we took a trip to Nevada when Tabor left for his mission.  We took some video on the trip.

Marianne:   is pictured with her toddler girls.  She looks the same:  slender, wearing flip flops, exuding relaxed confidence.  (Her toddlers, who are currently 16 and almost 14, look quite different now.)  I don't know what it is about Marianne that puts me at ease.  Even seeing video of her does the trick.  She told me yesterday on the phone that she was given a new church calling:  ward missionary.  That's in addition to being a primary teacher, Webelos leader, merit badge counselor and who knows what else.  Oh, and bishop's wife.  (If you're not a Mormon, you should understand that is A LOT).  She also has six kids and homeschools 4 of them.  When I was homeschooling three children I was always busy...really busy.  Like Adam would come home and find me crying busy.   I don't know how she does it.  Or how she is so happy and confident and calm. 

Olivia:   is in the video, holding court with her nieces and nephew.  They are all dressed up with items from her personal dress up box.  Olivia is maybe the only person I know who had a personal dress up box when she was single and in her twenties.  She was ordering food in a pretend restaurant from Clarissa who was three at the time.  Clarissa offered her cheese sandwiches.  Olivia deliberated and said, just because she's Olivia, "Well, I am trying to cut down on my cholesterol..."  Clarissa just looked at her, confused.  Finally Olivia relented to the cheese sandwiches (which were invisible and pretend so I'm guessing low in cholesterol) and declared them delicious.  That is Olivia, so engaging and imaginative and completely selling the pretend play that she had a circle of toddlers around her, fascinated.  She had all the time in the world for them.  And they knew it.  

There's Enoch:  handsome and self assured, wrapping his arms around his fiance, Jennifer, to pose for a picture. That was the first time I met Jennifer.  My sisters had met her before and told me she was juuuuuust right.  She was.  We loved her immediately, never knowing then how much that love would grow as she became very thoroughly our sister.

Ammon: is there, a gangly teenager.  He gently held his nieces and nephew and talked to them softly.  He made witty comments.  He will always be the coolest person I know.

There's Tabor: taking a last horseback ride with our dad before he left.  I know them both enough to know what that meant.  I see Tabor's clean shaven face, so young and intact (before he broke it in a run in with a mule...long story).  I see the naked fear visible in his eyes the day we took him to the Missionary Training Center. 

I was glad my children were watching the movie with me.  See, I want to tell them.  See that tall upright kid?  That's what I want you to be (except it's OK if you're not that tall).

Besides my parents, my brothers and sisters are the people I most want to be like in the world.  They are confident and brave.  They are courageous risk takers and pools of strength and stability.  They are talented and good and kind.  They are funny.  They are tall.

I wish I were more like them.  (Tall too.)

When I see them as little kids, as teenagers and young adults, I remember where we've all been.  I'm glad to be part of their ranks.  I'm somehow more because I'm their sister.  They love me (and they know better than anyone what a shy and weird kid I am).


Marianne said...

This is a lovely post. Thanks for not posting any dog-day pictures of me. Why did some of our siblings skip the dog-day phase?

Mark Dahl said...

What a great post Thelma. You write so well. It made me miss you all so much.

your mom

Thelma said...

This is a comment from Emma. A) There HAS been a cuter little brother in the history of the world. You've met Mark right? B) Clarissa looks EXACTLY the same (just smaller).

Olivia Cobian said...

Better choice of picture of you and your sisters. Thanks.


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