I started babysitting them when I wasn't even old enough to be a full-fledged babysitter. Instead, I was a mother's helper while their mom worked upstairs. Then I started babysitting after school. And then evenings. Sometimes I'd stay for Saturday night pizza or cheese and crackers Sunday. Then we started taking vacations together, and celebrating holidays, graduations and a wedding. They became my family with a different last name.
We've experienced crazy sickness, buckets of mac and cheese, hours of homework followed by reenactments of Power Rangers scenes. There's been broken hearts, new puppies, an engagement, softball games, moves to college and abroad, endless nights of Ghosts in the Graveyard, a 21st birthday, dinners and beer. Last weekend, we got to celebrate Chris' graduation from college, and next year it's Layne's turn.
We've been super close, and we've been not so close. But now we're all adults, and connected in a way that doesn't always involve our parents. Plus, no one has to pay me to hang out with them. Two years from now, we could all be in different parts of the country - all three in graduate school. (Hello, I'm the slow one.)
My relationship with these two is precious. One I will work hard to maintain and grow for the rest of my life. We may have different last names (and clearly different height genes), but I'm claiming them.