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The Best Big Sister in the World

Violet is 5 now, and that alone is enough to make me weep with joy, like a big baby bitch.

She stole my heart, long ago, even before she was actually born. As my first kid tucked up inside her mommy's belly, my daughter was the first person who I ever truly felt deep soul-stirring love for.

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Yeah, I'd felt it for my wife, of course, but it isn't the same, and anyone who says it is is just plain lying. The love that swells up out of your innermost guts in the moments after you find out you're going to become a parent for the first time, and then the love that smothers your heart in the first seconds when you finally lay your big fat grown-up sausage fingers on their newborn skin—that's a one-of-a-kind love, man. You cannot replicate it. And you will never find it with anyone other than a child whom you helped create.

She drives me nuts sometimes, Violet does, but that's typical, right? I drive her nuts, too, and I know it.

Still, I have watched her ever so closely over the last half decade as she went from being my tiny lump of living to a whirling, twirling, loving little human who makes me feel as if I am some kind of King of the Universe just by watching her sip chocolate milk from a purple plastic cup that has seen much better days.

And now, in perhaps her finest role yet, she is a big sister yet again. She's already taken our Henry, 3, under her wing, and watching that all go down has been grand. They play their imaginary games, lining up stuffed animals at the top of the back stairs and then hurling them down to the bottom, sending each one on its journey and laughing and squealing, delighted at the way their story, their game is turning out.

One younger brother is one thing; two is something else entirely.

Violet calls her brother by his name. Henry calls his big sister, "Sister." It's a simple thing, and I don't know how it even came to be that way, but it blows my mind with beauty and power.

"Sister, do you want to color wif me?"

"Sister, you're my best fwend!"

"Sister punched me in the face!"

It's all so good. Her little brother idolizes her; he wants her approval. And when she keeps it from him, he just wants it that much more.

Now, as we welcome our third kid—our second boy—I am fascinated by the fact that my little girl will someday soon be at the head of a tiny army of two young guys. I know she will shine as a general.

Hell, she already does.

But still, one younger brother is one thing; two is something else entirely.

Love for a child is heavier than stars and way deeper than any seas could ever dream of being. Watching the one who first opened your eyes to this whole other kingdom here on Earth ... soaking your eyeballs in visions of your firstborn doing her thing—commanding her little brother on the ways of the game and smiling at him over hot steaming bowls of mac and cheese—it's all too much for me sometimes.

I get to thinking about how important family really is in this lifetime, about how these three kids—one of them still a stranger to us yet—will someday, if luck shines right, be standing there at the bar together after my funeral, crying a little and laughing a lot as they remember how goofy and dumb their dad was.

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As they chatter and reminisce about days long past, I hope Violet will remember back when she was really, really young; how daddy would meet her in the darkness of the back hall of the old farmhouse before dawn almost every morning, and how he would sit down silently on the tip-top step as he waited for his baby girl to flop her tiny arms across his shoulders, hook her tiny fingers around his chest, and then, once he knew she was on, would rise up slowly and cautiously so he could haul her downstairs to the breakfast table without a word from either of them.

She's going to be the best big sister ever.

Hell, she already is.

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