Many moons ago it was time for Diana's first day of kindergarten. I walked her to the school with her sister and brother. I was not given to tears when Diana climbed the steps of the school to disappear inside. I had been looking forward to giving Calypso more one on one time since her sister would be in school during the afternoon while her brother would be taking a nap.
As soon as the school doors swallowed her sister Calypso became weepy. She trudged home dejectedly. I put Isaac down for his nap and returned to Calypso who was still looking more than a bit glum. I tried to perk her up by pointing out how we could have special time when she didn't have to share me with her siblings. I asked if she wanted to play games, read stories, draw pictures, get out dolls. Every suggestion was met with an utter lack of enthusiasm. Finally I asked if she had some other suggestion. She wailed miserably, "I miss my sister! I just want to watch TV and cry!" It was not exactly the afternoon of bonding I had envisioned.
A couple of weeks later she demonstrated the realization of the new potentials in her sister's daily absence. She tiptoed to me one afternoon and asked me to lean down to her as she looked over her shoulder to make sure there were no spies listening in (even though her brother was sound asleep and her sister was in school). She whispered, "I'd like to go play with all the toys Diana never shares. Is that ok?" I smiled as I whispered back, "Great idea. Have fun!" She skipped off very happily before bringing a few toys to share with me.
Until that point Calypso had been a very shy little girl. During the two years her sister went off to school before her she began to bloom into a more confident and outgoing kid. As much as she idolized her sister it was nice to see her have the chance to become her own person.
Flash forward to last week when we dropped Diana off at college. Again, I was not given to tears at the time (though I will admit to a lump in my throat two nights later when I set the dinner table with one less place). Calypso, however, began to well up as soon as the last unpacked item was put away. The tears flowed freely when she hugged her sister goodbye. She wept almost all the way home in the car and wailed once inside the house. She spent the next day curled up in Diana's bed, crying still. At one point after affirming her right to have any feelings she wanted, I also encouraged a bit of perspective by reminding her Diana was only at school, not dead.
The last couple of years in school for Calypso have been a bit trying. Part of that is related to her own personality and choices. I believe part of it is also due to living in her older sister's shadow. This year Calypso is in a new school where no one has ever known Diana. I'm hoping it gives her another opportunity to grow and develop a bit more of herself in the light and soil of new opportunities...even if it started out being watered by tears.