My little girl Isabella is four and she is an only child. But when she goes to the playground and a stranger asks her if she has any brothers and sisters she says yes. She says she has one brother and one sister. Her sister is called Frankie and her brother is called Billy.
"Are they older or younger?" the questioner might ask.
"Frankie is older and Billie is younger."
"Oh, that's nice."
"Yeth," Isabella might say (she has a lisp), "but Billy is scared of Frankie."
"Because Frankie wants to eat Billy."
That's when the questioner starts to laugh and act condescending and Isabella starts to get frustrated because she is entirely serious.
Frankie, you see, is our dog. Billy is Isabella's pet fish. And Isabella is quite correct that her sister Frankie does want to eat her brother Billy.
Isabella calls them her brother and sister with a complete lack of irony. She seems to attribute no less value to them because they are animals.
Admittedly, it is not Billy the fish or even Frankie the dog she cries out for when, on some days, she doesn't want us to leave her at school. But if you ask her the names of the people in her family, she rattles off: Mommy, Daddy, Frankie and Billy.
For today's blog post, Isabella has inspired me to post some pictures of my own brothers and sisters: