The spirit of siblinghood in images and interviews.
Ages 16 and 18
#siblingrevelryproject #Thisis16 #Thisis18
How would you describe each other? “She is very chill but ambitious in her own way. It’s a very different approach to how I do things.” “She is very driven, very competitive and very hard on herself.” “But I’ve chilled some on the competitiveness!” “Mmmmm… Well, she’s now able to play board games but she’s still competitive. She’s not competitive with me, but she always feels like she needs to be the best in whatever she’s doing.”
Y’all have shared a room your whole lives. Tell me about that… “Oh I love it!” “That’s because I’m the one who cleans the room!” “We coexist well. We don’t spend a lot of time at home now anyway. When we were little we used to pass notes down our bunk beds.” “She had all these One Direction posters and I just had a big world map.” And now you’re heading to college… “Yeah. This summer I was a counselor at our camp so I went out two days before her…and in those two days she sold my bed and put all my stuff in my mom’s office.” “Well she has SO MANY THINGS. I mean, she has a face sauna. It’s going to take her forever to get out of here. So I decided to take the bull by the horns.”
“We have a good understanding of each other.” “I don’t think we’ve ever really fought. Sometimes I’ll say, ‘Get your life together!’ But we’ve never actually fought.” “I think that’s because of her personality. If I had another sibling I’d probably scream, because I get in fights with plenty of other people. We had some friends who would fight all the time. Like physically fight…pulling hair, slapping. And afterward my sister would pull me aside and say, ‘That’s not how we resolve our conflicts.’”
Are you more receptive to advice from your big sister vs. your parents? “Oh! I roll my eyes a lot more with my parents! They are awesome, but I feel like because she’s closer to my age I can look at her and say, ‘Yeah, that’s where I want to be.’ I can take her advice…and she is my best bet to tell me what I’m doing wrong.” “But I’m not mean about it, right?” “No, not mean.” “Usually my advice is more like, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.”
Wait, are y'all speaking Spanish because you think I can't understand you?? Busted! "Hahaha! We do that to our parents so we're kinda used to it."
Ok, so she leaves for college soon. How are you feeling about this? “I do not like. I do not like it at all. I cried her whole graduation. I mean, mascara-down-the-face crying. She’s ready and she’s going to do great. I just like having her in my room…and well, I don’t know…I’m just really really going to miss her.”
What are y’all going to miss? “I’m going to miss how she always pumps me up for swim practice and school when I don’t want to go. 5:30am! And she’s always super peppy about it.” “I’m going to miss all of her hilarious obsessions. We spent so much time driving to and from high school, and we would do these singing competitions all the time. I’m going to miss her being my go-to person who’s always there.”
Is there something you learned from your sister that you'll take to college with you? "Sometimes you can't brush things off. You gotta go get 'em. I’m more of a non-confrontational person. I might say, "Let's dialogue…." But she says, 'Sometimes you gotta punch 'em in the face and take things head on.'"
Where will y'all be in 10 years? "Running for the United States Congress." "Voting for her."
Ages 7, 7 and 10
#siblingrevelryproject #Thisis7 #Thisis10
Ok, here's a question for y'all. Who is... "The best? Me, right here."
"We play Spy a lot, and he’s always the bad guy. And when we play Doctor, he’s the evil doctor." Why do you think he’s always the bad guy? "I don’t know…he seems to be really good at acting like a bad guy. And he seems to find us very annoying."
"They are a lot different than me. They both are like boy-ey, and I’m mostly like girly. So I’m a lot different than them." How is that for you? "Sometimes it feels lonely. I like sewing, drawing, dancing…and they are usually doing things like fighting or biking or working on their dirt jumps."
"If you don’t have any siblings then your parents are basically your siblings." Really? "Yeah. But you know, parents are mostly busy. That’s why if you are just one child you probably read a lot of books. And you know, you make imaginary friends." "But actually we do that too—we have two imaginary friends!"
"Having a twin is very special to me. I feel like there’s some kind of connection." "Yeah. Like sometimes we try to think of a word and then say that word out loud at the same time to see if it’s the same." Does it work? "Sometimes." "We’ve tried some other tests, but really we just know that we’re twins, and we don’t have to take any of those tests to prove it."
As the oldest, do you feel a sense of responsibility to be a good role model? “I suppose I’m a good role model, but I’m not sure how much they look up to me.” “I look up to you about 90%…but the other half of you is super annoying.”
"I wish we could all swap places for a day and see how annoying we really are." "That would be awesome. We could video it!"
Ages 71 and 74
#siblingrevelryproject #Thisis71 #Thisis74
“We came to the U.S. when I was 4 and she was 7. She was thrown into school without knowing anything, and she ended up teaching me English so that when I started kindergarten I could communicate. She was not just a big sister; she was a pioneer.”
Do you still feel like the big sister? “I do. I still feel like I know more than him.”
“I was born in Russia in 1943, during the war. Our parents were not in concentration camps—they were running. Both my brothers were born in Germany in a displaced persons camp after the war. The war was over in 1945, and we didn’t leave the camp until '49.”
“We came to New York in late December 1949. I remember the ship. It was a troop transporter. Our father was in the barracks with the other soldiers because he was in the Russian Army.”
“It was not like we had our own little cabin. It wasn’t a cruise ship. Did you ever see the movie Yentl? It was more like that.”
Did y’all get along as kids? “Oh yeah. All three of us did.”
“We didn’t really fight. If one needed money or anything…we always helped. He loaned me $500 for my first car.”
“When we came to this country it felt like such a family effort—a team effort. We started out being different than most people so we stuck together.”
“When we first started school our clothes were different, our food was different…”
“I always looked forward to lunch at school because it was American food. At home we had Jewish food. My parents never bought white bread at the grocery store—always rye bread from the bakery.”
“And we never had peanut butter and jelly at home. In the displacement camp we were fed peanut butter because of the protein, so my mother and dad said, “When we go to America we are never eating peanut butter again.”
“I used to crave bologna sandwiches, just for the white bread. We wanted to assimilate—that was a strong desire.”
“He had so much interest in baseball and football, and my parents had none. He was a star quarterback. It was hard on him because for most parents their whole life is about their kids’ sports, but to our parents sports weren’t a big deal. I still remember…uh oh I’m going to cry…we went to a game and I don’t remember whose father it was but he was bragging…“My son is this and that.” And my folks were standing there and he asked them, “What about your son?” and I jumped in and said, “He’s the QUARTERBACK!” . Photo 5/9. #siblingrevelryproject #Thisis71 #Thisis74
“I loved American Bandstand! I had to bribe them to let me watch it. One TV and two brothers who didn’t want to watch it. I had to pay 50 cents to my youngest brother so I could watch it without him going crazy and blocking my view.”
What did y’all do for fun? “We used to buzz the drive-through. (Did you ever see American Graffiti? It was like that.) I still remember that he had just gotten his permit but I had to drive with him. He and his buddies would be in the front seat and I had to be in the back, crouched down so he wouldn't be seen driving with his sister.”
What’s the best thing about having siblings? “I always felt when I was growing up that my siblings were a part of me. I never could hate or be bitter about them because it was like hating myself. I think the same way about our children and grandchildren…we’re all part of the same base. In a spiritual way I feel like we’re connected rather than separate.”
“I know families that don’t speak to each other. The sisters don’t speak to each other…a father and son might not speak to each other…I can’t understand it! I mean, you can have an argument but somehow you gotta make up, you know?”
"Sunday night is family night. Everyone has to be home. Sometimes we go to Barton Springs or we eat out or go see a movie. I usually end up coming home pretty late most other nights, so it's a good time to see everyone and catch up."
"They can be annoying." In what way? "Every way." Do you think that’s pretty typical for siblings? "Oh yeah."
Tell me something about your brother… "He’s good at making mac and cheese. He's good at falling off skateboards. He's nice. And he smells nice."
"We’re all pretty independent. Everyone's good at doing their own thing."
"We’re going to Thailand this summer." Do y’all travel well together? "Yeah. But we also fight everywhere."
What’s the process for figuring out who does what chore? "Whoever is closest has to do it. Actually, as long as it gets done, our parents don't care who does it. That’s the system."
Tell me something about your sister... "I don’t like it when she wakes me up in the middle of the night. But I like it when she piggybacks with me."
If you’re Moana, who are they? "She’s the chicken. He's the pig."
Is there anything that would surprise me to know about y’all? "Nothing really. We're just pretty normal."
Ages 9 and 10
#siblingrevelryproject #Thisis9 #Thisis10
"We never tell each other secrets." Why do you think that is? "We don’t trust each other." "Because if you get secrets, you smuggle them to other people."
What’s a typical day like between you two? "I give her a few morning noogies and then we finish with a nice punch in the arm."
Is he funny? "Um, yeah."
How do y'all decide who goes first? "May the best man win!"
What’s something nice you can say about her? "Hmm…come back in a few hours."
What makes her laugh? "When I draw pictures of her in the future." "You’ve never done that." "Well if I did you would laugh. I would draw a picture of you lobotomizing a cow." "What the heck??"
What’s the best thing about having a sibling? "There isn’t one." Are you sure? "What about the time I gave you money?" "Oh yeah…you gave me like 5 cents. I think I needed it to make a dollar."
"I do that all the time." "No you don't." "Yes I do." "No you don't." "Yes I do." "No you don't." "Yes I do." "No you don't." "I've done that many many times." "Maybe once." "That's just not true." "Yak yak yak yak yak. "STOP TALKING!"
Do y'all have a hard time saying sorry? "Yeah."
When do y'all get along? "Never." I don’t buy that. "Well, when we’re building Legos. Sometimes."
Oh brother! This trio gently reminded me how much I’ve forgotten about the baby/toddler/preschooler years. For example, not everyone wants to answer my annoying questions about siblinghood because HELLO STRANGER I’M ONLY TWO.
This is a big bed! How many brothers can you fit in it? “4,005!”
What do you do to make him giggle? "Squeeze him."
What do you and your brother like to do together? "Go!"
He might be young, but make no mistake, he is soaking up those brothers.
What do you think about sharing? "I don't love sharing." Is your brother good at sharing? "Sometimes. Sometimes you have to make a hard choice."
No matter how much you love your brothers, everybody needs a break sometimes. Cookies help.
"Dude, I can't wait til I'm big enough to get away with that."
How tall will your baby brother be? Will he grow as big as you? "No, me tiny!"
How big are you? “I’m 183 big. No, I'm 22 big because my favorite number is 22." What do you want to be when you grow up? "I'm not growing any bigger."
Ages 89 and 92
#siblingrevelryproject #Thisis89 #Thisis92
"We grew up on a farm and there were 13 of us…9 girls and 4 boys. Our father wanted 9 boys, but he accepted us anyway."
What was it like having 12 siblings? "We never got lonesome and we never knew privacy."
"I can remember trying to do extra chores for my father. What we would do for praise was amazing."
"She always did something extra, and sometimes it was outstanding enough that my Dad noticed it. If not, she brought it to his attention."
"My mother worked harder than anyone I’ve ever seen. She sewed clothes for all of us. She cooked and cooked and cooked. And everybody learned how to do something as they grew up. The older ones took care of the smaller ones until they left home. Sometimes you wanted to leave home for that reason."
"Remember what our father said when somebody did something wrong? He would ask who did it, and if you didn’t own up to it you had all these siblings who would make you sorry for it."
When you left home at 15, was it difficult not to live around siblings? "We were old enough to take care of ourselves. We were independent. And we didn’t have a choice."
What did you learn from your siblings that you applied to your adult life? "We learned to respect each other’s opinions, because there’s always two sides to everything no matter what. And you do the best you can. And you pray about it."
"We all stood up for one another, irregardless. We might crab about it later, but we did stand up for each other, which was a good thing."
“I think that’s part of the dynamic with five kids…our parents weren’t micromanagers. We all raised each other along the way.”
"He's the oldest. He's the rock." "The patriarch." "He's the deep diver. The guy on the phone with all the doctors, communicating everything and making it beautiful and artistic along the way."
"He's the fireman, and if there's any kind of fire he just wants to grab the hose and put it out." "He's not afraid of fire. He's a leader and people follow him." "Yet at the same time, he instigates...an arsonist fireman!"
"That’s easy—she’s our producer.” “She's always been like that. She did my senior year scrapbook.” “Mine too!” “I organized Christmases. I made sure everybody had the presents they wanted and then I wrapped them for Mom.” “She does it effortlessly. She weaves stuff together and makes it happen. That’s her superpower.”
"She’s the healer and the baby whisperer.” “The mediator…the harmonizer." “She’s so even keeled." “When Dad was going through chemo she would sit and rub his feet.”
“He’s the rebel with a cause.” “He has been the most free. He did his own thing.” “He was the only one still at home when Mom and Dad split.” “I got to hear all the fallout of the divorce. I didn’t process it then, but I know it now. It’s probably why I moved away for a while.” “And then you were the one right next to Mom when she left the planet.”
"When there are five kids, nobody is fully the middle child."
"Our Dad wasn’t focused on the world. Like his brother said at the funeral: He had no concept of space and time." “Which was maddening to our mother. He would say, 'The kids need to go to Paris for the summer!’” “And Mom would say, 'NO, they need sneakers.'" “And we would say, "Nikes! Michael Jordans! NOT walking shoes from Mervyn's.”
“Losing your parents like we did reframes everything. It accelerates a lot of conversations that some people never have. I had incredible conversations with them…and fights too. It really is the second cutting of the cord.”
"When Mom was dying, I could be across the room and say, "Mama?" and she would wake right up." “But when I would say it, she would be like, "Zzzzzzz." "You know she was thinking, "He’ll be FINE. But the other one…she needs a heavy sweater."
"There was the time I stole Dad’s cigarettes and I woke up to you standing over me holding them. You were 7 or 8. So you’re holding these cigarettes and I—criminal mind!—I quickly said, 'Those were cigarettes we took from Mom and Dad to help them quit smoking.' So then we’re out by the shed breaking cigarettes in half when Dad walks up. He said, 'What the hell are you doing?!' And you said, 'We’re saving you from smoking!' And Dad looked at me totally knowing and said, 'You owe me $5.' And he walked off."
"One time Dad gave us this lecture about walking away instead of fighting, and that same night we had this fight. One thing my brother knows how to do is to weaponize words...So we were fighting and he started teasing me saying, 'I’m going to walk away…I’m going to walk away!' I scrambled up on the top bunk bed and leaned out with my thighs on the edge of the bed and my hand on the door. And I said, ‘You’re not going to fucking walk away! You’re going to finish this fight!’ And he just swiped at my arm and I fell off the bunkbed and instantly broke my arm. That night when I was in bed—white as a sheet with a broken arm—the whole time all I could think about was that Dad told us not to fight and said to walk away. And we didn’t. This was our fault. I wasn’t even mad at my brother. I knew it, man. Our fault! He had given us the lecture THAT night. I mean, goddammit."
"Dad always said we were his investment portfolio." "And Mom said we were her pièce de résistance."
Ages 6, 8 and 8
#siblingrevelryproject #Thisis6 #Thisis8 #twins
What's the best thing about having sisters? "You never get lonely."
What does it look like when everyone is getting along? "I have no idea."
So, you're the youngest. Is there anything you can do that your big sisters can't? "Lots! This!"
Tell me about sharing. Is that a hard thing for y'all? "SHE is zero percent about sharing." "YOU don't share either!" "I don't share because you don't share." "Well I don't share because YOU don't share."
Ah yes...that split second when the laughs take a sharp turn and head south.
"She's isn't good at apologizing."
"We're going to make a band called Eye of the Fire Tiger."
"Yeah, I remember the day he was born. The midwife's assistant came and woke us all up and said, "It's happening now!" We were all there when he was born. And I remember thinking he looked like a little chicken."
What do y'all fight about? "Personal space. But we have our own rooms now, which is pretty great considering three of us shared one room for a long time--and it was tiny. Really tiny."
Why do you think she's the bossiest? "Because she's the biggest and smartest."
Tell me something I should know about being one of 4 kids. "There's going to be lots of fighting but also lots of laughing."
Ages 6 and 8
#siblingrevelryproject #Thisis6 #Thisis8
What's the best thing about having a sister? "I don't know...it's just fun."
"If I had a brother, I probably wouldn't have as much glass in my room. It would be crazier around here."
Who is better at keeping secrets? "Me?"
"She gets scared playing in front of a lot of people." "No..." "Ok, you get scared to sing." "No...I get scared to go first. So I go at the end."
Do y'all ever fight? "Yes!" That was a big yes. What do you fight about? "Well...we mostly just play fight."
"Remember when I found out you had an elaborate secret wedding journal? Before you were engaged? I was all, WHO ARE YOU?? HOW ARE WE RELATED??"
"The idea of my perfect wedding day had literally never entered my mind until you started a Pinterest page for me." "Right. And then I titled it 'OUR Dream Day.'"
"I think part of why we get along so well is just how our parents raised us. We were latchkey kids at the ages of probably 8 and 6...so we always stuck together. By the way, our mom hates when I share that."
"I have to warn you: something weird happens to our faces when we get in front of a camera. I can’t explain it, but we both do it and it’s…it's awkward."