My daughter is a spirited storyteller. When she was younger and not able to read or write yet, I’d record her stories in a special journal because I wanted her to remember the light and creativity that seeped from her beautiful little mind. That she had the ability to express herself through radiant little tales. Poetic tales. The other day, as I was getting dinner started, I looked over and noticed the way she was reenacting one of her plays. And her younger brother was on the floor with his hands perched under his chin looking upward with his brilliantly bright eyes, listening to his sister’s voice. Completely captivated by her expression and movement and song.
It struck me because lately, in the midst of our hurried schedules, those stories have become lost in the shuffle for me. In the background I hear the soft humming of words strung together or the faint giggles of children playing but more often than I care to admit, I find myself tuning out and focusing instead on the tasks at hand. Making dinner. Sorting through homework. Shuffling through music sheets for an upcoming recital.
But when I saw how immersed they were in this story, how liberated and content they were, I felt a profound sadness. I left my unfinished housework and quietly sat against the wall adjacent to where they were playing. And I just listened. To their little voices and their laughter and the beautiful way they interacted.
My daughter, radiant and spirited and passionate and my son, quiet and mesmerized and lost in thought.
I realized at that very moment what their bond was really made of. How important it was for her to tell the story and how important it was for him to hear it. Each one taking what they needed from each other and in turn, offering something as well. Something quite beautiful and restorative. It’s the nature of sibling relationships though isn’t it? The give and take. Learning to cope with hurt feelings and raised voices and sometimes, silly arguments over nothing at all. And in the same breath, there is sweet laughter and storytelling and sharing and real love. It’s amazing in the most perfect way imaginable.
Sibling relationships teach us so much about human connection. One of the most crucial realizations is that our words are powerful tools with the ability to transform and reinvent and teach and yet, they can also be destructive weapons with the capacity to deteriorate and wound and damage.
My siblings and I share a lot of similarities, but we also have our own quirks and unique characteristics. Sometimes those differences are the cause of very heated debates and arguments, but other times, it’s those very differences that I crave. That I actually need. It’s that distinct outlook on life, that varied perspective, that left-field analogy that allows me to re-group and re-evaluate. And I see this very thing with my own children. This struggle for leadership and control and attention. My daughter loves music and drawing and striking up intense conversations. She is inquisitive and fiercely imaginative. My son on the other hand is pensive and organized and inventive.
He loves to decipher and build things and construct intricate little puzzles. I used to worry that their differences would prevent them from forming a strong and everlasting bond.
But I don’t worry about that anymore.
I know that way down deep where it really counts, they are virtually identical. They are sensitive and loving and they crave that unique friendship and love that only siblings can share. They give what they can and take what they need and in the end, I know there is a sense of fulfillment. Not always. But most of the time. It took me a long time to understand that hearing the story is just as important as telling it. And they really have it figured it out. Truly.
Roasted Lentil + Leek Soup
2 Cans brown lentils, drained
2 bunches leeks, sliced and soaked in water to remove grit
1 large onion, sliced
3 carrots, sliced
2 stalks of celery, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, sliced
¼ t smoked paprika
½ t cayenne pepper
½ t cumin
¼ t nutmeg
4 C vegetable broth
¼ C olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Combine the lentils, leeks, onion, carrots, celery, garlic and shallot in a large roasting pan. Add the olive oil, paprika, cayenne, cumin, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Roast uncovered at 350 for 35 minutes or until all vegetables are fork tender.
Place roasted lentils and vegetables in a food processor and add vegetable stock ½ cup at a time until desired consistency is achieved. Top with a drizzle of chili oil and serve.
Nicholetta Bokolas is the author of the food blog Pepper + Paint. She is a wife, mother and lover of all things fresh and local. She believes good food is meant to be shared and loves coming up with unique recipes that feed both the body and the soul. You can follow Pepper and Paint on facebook and twitter.