I am a straight arrow. As rule abiding and by the book as they come (even though half the time I'm trying to convince myself that I'm really a closet hippy). In our family there is a theory that kids come in twos. One straight arrow, one wild child. My father was the wild one, my uncle the by the book one; Rob's dad was the wild one, his uncle, by the book. Needless to say my brother was the wild one. I was looking at a picture of my brother and I from my college graduation. He had missed the ceremony and arrived late. The picture shows my brother, long haired, red eyed, and rumpled and me in my cap and gown chewing him out. That scene sums up the family to a tee. The straight arrow tows the lines, the wild child has fun. Our best stories are wild child driven. They are fun and lively and a constant source of worry. We straight arrows, when not full of righteous indignation are sticks in the mud, arriving safely at every destination with no tale to tell. Really, we need each other. It's a yin yang thing. By the way, my brother is now a steady as a rock. He's grown up.
Our family's wild children come with dangerous habits. Drinking too much, drugs, long wild nights, poor decision making, broken bones, hearts, and cars. I spent years dancing between self righteous worry and complete indifference (with hidden worry). I also envied the eases with which hey went through life. Never really as hurt as they could have been. They seemed charmed. Everywhere they went they made friends, had adventures, had a blast. I've ridden shotgun standing on the beach watching them crash through dangerous waves.
Our latest wild child is my 20 year old sister. Her life is her story to tell, so no details here. Her life is a continuing drama and she is the star. When she bursts into the house she leaves a wake behind her. It feels like a Bob Fosse number, we should all don sequins and snaps and twist behind her. Her ups and downs have been on going since she was 14. Before then she was my little buddy. She come stay with me every summer and we'd craft and adventure (tamely). Once she hit her teens, she wanted more and dropped out of my life. For the past 6 years we've seen her in fits and spurts. Her stories worry me more than entertain. Her stories frustrate me and I don't really want my children riding shotgun on these trips.
This last visit to CT, she was around more. She walked into the house and Lily looked at me and asked who's that? I explained she was my sister, her aunt. Lily's reply, you have a sister? They all had a nice time together (after getting reacquainted). We went to the beach and she took Caroline out kayaking. Of course, in true inattentive manner, she went out too far and for too long. My step mother got nervous and wanted to go look for them. I also started to get worried (I just saw Rachel Getting Married, watch and you'll know why). Of course, they came back happy and safe. Caroline looked a year older, proclaiming it was so cool, we found an island and explored it, we named it Bird Island! The rest of the day was just as nice, they made brownies and beaded bracelets, then watched movies. She was trying.
I am not stupid, I know this is probably a brief moment. Unreal expectations are dangerous and rarely fulfilled. I also know it starts with small amounts of trust. I look at my straight arrow oldest and my youngest. Will she be the next wild child? No need for pre-determination, just let it be.