When Phoebe was born, Emilia, then 4, burst into the hospital room, arms ready to hug, fingers ready to poke and heart ready to accept and embrace this new addition to our family. She’d been to Big Sister Class and couldn’t wait to implement all the things she learned not to do.

When Phoebe was born, Grace, then 2, shuffled in, peaked through the clear plastic of her sister’s basinet, and proceeded to take interest in everything and everyone but the baby: the telephone, the ice machine, her adoring grandparents and our coveted view of the parking garage roof.

This indifferent attitude proceeded through the first eight months of Phoebe’s life. While Emilia dove headfirst into her second shot at big sisterhood, Grace focused on other things — like using the potty and decorating the wood floor with stickers. When she got tired of pretending like Phoebe didn’t exist, she’d throw in an envious outburst or an aggressive attempt at cuddling the baby that was less “BFF" and more "WWF."

And then, something magical happened.

You know that quintessential scene in ‘80s and ‘90s teen movies where the romantic lead suddenly views the nerdy wallflower in a new light? Maybe the dorky guy saves the day, or the quiet girl loses her hideous glasses and disgusting ponytail to reveal the long-haired, near-sighted babe underneath…

Anyway, it was kind of like that.

One day, Grace turned around, a spotlight shone down on Phoebe and a Thompson Twins song started playing in the background. Suddenly, Phoebe was no longer an invasive and ignorable baby sister, but instead a worthwhile human being — and maybe a potential prom date.

The shift felt sudden, but I’m pretty sure it’s here to stay. With Emilia in kindergarten, Grace and Phoebe have a few days at home each week to play, destroy the house together and make up for lost time.

Occasionally, their burgeoning friendship is a challenge: Grace finds it really hard to let Phoebe sleep when there are so many adventures to be had and 64-count boxes of crayons to dump on the floor. But most of the time, it’s heartwarming, encouraging and really fun to watch.

Plus, it goes to show that looks can be deceiving. The person who, on the surface, appears to simply be a drooling, pooping, screeching, staggering, 2-feet-tall goblin, could one day, out of the blue, become a friend.


Catherine Kraemer writes twice a month for Momaha.com. She and her husband, Matt, are the parents of three young girls – Emilia, 5, Grace, 3 and newborn Phoebe. Originally from St. Louis, Catherine lives in Omaha and works at a local advertising agency.

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