I hope we remember this when they’re like 37

Avery in the clothes he’s had on all day, trying to put a track together on which he will race cars, and Aurora, 30 minutes after a bath, red-footed pajamas, doing what she can to delay if not derail Avery’s efforts. Takes the cars off of the track one at a time, then sweeps one arm over several cars and pulls them to the side.

She just wants to do what you’re doing, Holly says.

We’re at my apartment, in the room the kids theoretically share, though Aurora spends far more time in the room than Avery does, as in, Aurora sleeps in the room and occasionally plays in the room unsupervised while Avery neither sleeps in the room nor plays in the room, unless we are all together, and then Avery will play in the room.

No she not, Avery says.

We know what he means when he says no she not.

Aurora crawls over the track, wooden pieces that can connect in several formations, figure eights and ovals and bridges under which, I assume, trolls wait for children to come with wishes. Aurora gets to the other side and picks up a piece of the track. A bridge piece. She puts the piece in her mouth.

No, Avery yells. He scrunches his face up. I told you she was going to ruin it all.

OK, I say to Holly, maybe Aurora is going to ruin it all.

And Holly laughs.

Avery, I say, in a few years when you’re older and the two of you are best friends, I’m going to remind you about these moments, when you didn’t want to share with your sister, and you won’t believe me.

Yes, I will, he says.

Holly thinks Avery has an uncomplicated relationship with me. He loves and trusts me. Sometimes, I might even say that Avery looks up to me. And he certainly recognizes the sounds I make when I’m trying not to make sounds indicating that I’m crying.

Why you sad? Avery asks.

Avery is proficient at asking why you sad.

Holly thinks she and Avery has a more complicated relationship. She doesn’t know why Avery is rougher with her (tonight, for instance, Avery threw a piece of bread at Holly’s face, then pointed a toy saw at her as if the saw was a gun), and at least once every week, Holly cries and asks if I know what she’s doing wrong.

Nothing, I always say. You’re doing everything right.

And she is.

I think Avery is trapped between baby and big boy with Holly. He got to be her baby; he was never really my baby. He’s always just been my buddy.

Relationships complicated and uncomplicated.

Anne Lamott, in her forthcoming book Some Assembly Required compares parenting to a “terminal illness, but in a good way.”

She’s kind of right.

Holly picks up Aurora and puts her down on the other side of the track. Aurora loses interest in the track and cars, and begins playing with another toy. This uneasy peace doesn’t last. Aurora drops the toy — a musical purse — and reaches for another car.

I hope we remember this when they’re like 37, Holly says.

I will, I say, because I will.

One of my more endearing (though, at times, complicated) qualities: I have an excellent memory. Holly does not have an excellent memory.

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