Jan. 4th, 2010

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When you are seven and a half or nine and one third years old, your sense of justice is magnified with the exacting precision of an electron microscope.

As is your measurement of the serving size of a particularly delicious homemade dark chocolate birthday cake.

"But Moooom, Cat got a bigger piece than me! I'm older, I should get more!"

So the cake fight (or the pizza fight, or the cookie fight or the shared bedroom fight) goes down, in home after home, sibling after sibling. Endless variations on that ol' the grass is greener theme. The creativity of children when it comes to claiming personal property is nearly unfathomable. In their social wrangling, kids pull out age, height, hair color, eye color, t-shirt color, toy preference. Anything to get an edge, no matter how itty-bitty microscopic it may be.

Because really.

1. The last time we went to Pizza Hut, she got the last slice of pizza. Not only that, but the slice had approximately three more green olives than any other slice.
2. Matty was turning six. That was closer to my age. Ergo, I should get the bigger piece.
3. Green was my favorite color. My sister's was orange. Most of the cake, being of an jungle safari theme, was green. Need I go on?

Anyway you (wait for it...) SLICE it , my older sister had a moral obligation to surrender this tasty bit of cakey real estate --even if the difference was a few millimeters. Even if the difference was so monumentally minor it wouldn't even register to an adult brain, nothing escapes a seven and half year old's sense of personal justice.

---

Nineteen years later, I don't remember who got the bigger piece of the cake, but I remember the fight. It's the bitterness that stays in my memory, not the sugary deliciousness I was after when I was seven years old. I don't remember getting our photos taken, arms round each others' shoulders, all party hats and warm grins. Forever preserved in sleeves of the family album. I don't remember the good bits, but I do remember that it was a green cake, darn it.

Nineteen years later, I sit with my sister on the living room couch. We talk about the big things: the sadness and silliness of war and international disputes. We pretend to watch thanksgiving football as we share a few bottles of our dad's homemade microbrew. We couldn't care less who gets more, yet we insist on sharing each bottle rather than having our own.

Nineteen years later, little Matty (who is now rather tall Matthew, with a handsome beard and broad shoulders) tells his older sisters to kindly shut up because he's got money on this game. And besides, war ought to be settled on the football field.

Nineteen years later, we giggle over our shared bottle because maybe Matty's right, after all. Nineteen years later, we're nineteen years wiser and we couldn't care less who got the bigger half because everything tastes better shared.

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