The way the story goes, when I was 3 or 4, I was sitting on the toilet before bedtime when my sister made a comment to me about “being little”. My response was to say “me not little” and punch her in the nose. While my parents laugh about it today (and I’m sure were holding back their laughter when it happened), they must have made it a teachable moment.

circa-1982

Big sis and little sis – circa 1982

I don’t have memories of fighting with my sister. I remember playing teacher, doctor, and dress up.  We regularly choreographed gymnastics, dance, jump rope and roller skating routines to the tunes of Paula Abdul and Milli Vanilli. There were endless hours of swinging in our backyard while Chicago’s Greatest Hits played on the boombox. In our shared bedroom we had flashlight wars and talked under the covers when we were supposed to be sleeping.

Thinking fond thoughts of her little sister, always!

Thinking fond thoughts of her little sister, always!

As we got older, we partnered on 4-H projects and became two-time state fair speaking champions together. We played duets on the piano. We bought our first car together when I was 13 and she was 16. We were together the only time she ever ditched the car – bailed out by strangers and Uncle Bob. We were there for each other when the inevitable high school breakups happened. She hosted me at Baldwin-Wallace when she was in college for both classroom and extracurricular orientation.

All grown up!

All grown up!

Fast forward 15 years, two weddings, 2,000 miles, four apartments, three houses, multiple jobs and four children later and I am still proud of our sisterhood. Not only is my sister a loyal friend and hard worker, but also has a perspective on the world that many appreciate. I’m most proud of my sister for being a great example to her pre-teen boys. She posted the following on Facebook on November 9 based on the “morning after” discussion she had with them. I read this aloud to more people than I can count because it is beautiful and meaningful. This is how she has moved the spirit of sisterhood into motherhood.

Some kids are going to be sad, confused, hurt and scared today. Be a friend to them. In this house we don’t judge people by the color of their skin, who they love or how they worship. AND if I ever hear you say anything to the contrary, you will be grounded for the remainder of your time in this house. AND if I ever hear you say anything to the contrary after you leave this house, you will not be welcome here again.

Harsh words for a dark and hateful time. Hate starts somewhere. It stops at home. ~ Nicci Avalon

While my 4 and 7 year old daughters are shielded from the hate in our world for a while longer, we do have similar “me not little” incidents happening. To get ahead of sibling rivalry and fighting, we have instituted a family respect chart. Our goal as a family is to get to 100 points. We earn points by doing and saying nice things for one another. We lose points when we are disrespectful or unhelpful. Once we reach 100 points, we will do something fun as a family. It will likely involve ice cream and a trip to the mall. Hopefully it will evolve into love, respect and sisterhood.

Small Town Leadership Lesson: Sisterhood was as much a part of growing up in rural America as the county fair and country roads. We didn’t live on a cul-de-sac with other kids. We didn’t have play dates and endless activities. We had each other. Thank you, Nicci for teaching me more than you will ever know. And thank you, Mom and Dad, for instilling the values that have cemented our sisterhood.

How have your siblings made a difference to you? Today would be a good time to let them know!

Natalie

Natalie

Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

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