Jane Roper

Writer. Blogger. Hater of Olives.

Super Sib

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 8.23.31 PMAs I’ve written here many times before, it’s hard to be a sib. 

Throughout this crappy little boat trip, Clio has gotten so much more attention than Elsa, of so many different sorts. She’s been the recipient of countless gifts and treats, only some of which have come in duplicate. She’s spent endless hours more with Alastair and me at the clinic, in the hospital, at home. And when we’ve gone to special cancer-related events, Clio has been the star, Elsa an afterthought.

There used to be a lot of tears and a lot of anger from Elsa. We’ve tried all along to even the scales to the extent that we can, and to fight for her when it comes to things like charity events and special outings; try to impress upon people that we’re all in this together, and that Elsa has had to be pretty damned brave, too. But there’s only so much we can do. And there are some things we just can’t control.

Like a couple of weeks ago, when we got to go to a Celtics game, thanks to the Jimmy Fund clinic. We had seats in one of the corporate boxes, which was really fun for all of us. Great seats, and free greasy chicken tenders and crappy pizza for everyone!

But during halftime the patient kids and only the patient kids (meaning, kids who are patients, not kids who are good at waiting, because that wouldn’t necessarily be Clio…) plus one parent got to go down on the court to high-five the players.

We knew this ahead of time, and told Elsa so she wouldn’t be too disappointed when the time came. I braced myself for a big scene. But to my immense surprise and relief she just said, “Yeah, that’s OK. It makes sense since she’s the patient.” 


And at the game, when it was time for Clio and Alastair to go down, she didn’t even flinch. (It probably helped that she was hanging out with another sib — a 12 year-old girl from another Jimmy Fund family we’ve gotten to know — and that said sib was letting her play games on her iPhone.)

Another example of Elsa’s recent awesomeness on this front: When Alastair and I were in LA, the girls went with their grandparents to the kickoff event for this year’s Dana Farber Marathon Challenge. (We’re very excited and honored to have Katelelin Kalal running for our family again this year. Help her reach her goal!)

They take lots of pictures at the event, including one of just the patient child, to put on a poster that they display the night before the marathon at a big banquet. Last year when this happened, it was really tough for Elsa. Tears, whining, etc. But this year, according to one of the event organizers (who is really great about helping Elsa feel included) she was lovely and totally patient (the other kind of patient!) while Clio was getting her solo picture taken. And then struck a fabulous supportive sister pose (see above) when it was time for a picture together.

There are still aspects of this experience, and the discrepancy in attention, that I know are hard for Elsa, especially given who she is: a gal who loves the spotlight. But she has come such a long way in how she handles being a “sib.”  She seems to take ownership of it now.

I am so darned proud of her.



  1. Special cheers for Elsa!! I’m sure there will be sparkling moments for Elsa in her future! She will shine!

  2. Wow. She’s really growing up, isn’t she? You have two amazing girls.

  3. What a sweet sister, that’s beautiful 🙂

  4. Go, Elsa. She’s extraordinary. xox

  5. That is the greatest picture ever. I can’t believe they are so big! Your girls are amazing. You should be so proud of Elsa – it’s a hard road for her too and she’s really growing into it and into a compassionate person.

  6. Beautiful picture! Way to go Elsa! My own super sib is Elsa and Clio’s age, and was 3 when her twin brothers were born very prematurely. She has risen to the occasion right through their very long NICU stay, and now in her role as “the other mother” of twins with a lifelong physical disability (not to mention just the spectacle of having identical twins for siblings!). It is so hard to be the one who is not in the limelight but I’m so proud of my girl (and yours) for their maturity at the ripe old age of 7. Think of the amazing, strong, empathetic women they will grow up to be!!

  7. Elsa is amazing! I am again impressed with the way you have parented your girls through this challenging time!

  8. You have a done a great job!!! Elsa is – along with Clio – the spotlight of your lives. What a great loving sister!!!

  9. I love getting to know both your girls. Elsa is truly a trooper. Although it’s just a speck of what they deserve, hope we’re at sibling week together this year!!

  10. She is a great kid. I know first hand how touching it is when you see your child being loving and kind and understanding of their sibling’s struggles. Gets to me every time when Harrison cries because Eric can’t eat the cupcakes and refuses to eat them too or when Eric is understanding and loving to Harrison during one of his meltdowns or doing one of his quirks.

    They are not perfect and won’t always be a perfect sibling but the moments they do it right are so so touching.

  11. Beautiful post for a beautiful girl!

    We LOVE having both Clio and Elsa in the Patient Partner Program. Can’t wait to see them again soon!


  12. Great post, and such a beautiful picture of both girls!

  13. I think Elsa’s growth in this area shows what a good job you guys are doing at balancing including Elsa and helping her understand that fair doesn’t always mean equal. Good for her, and for you guys! Living with cancer can have unexpected positives, though of course we’d still rather you didn’t have to be on the boat ride.

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