Being the middle child has one major advantage: You get to have a big sister and a little sister all at once! I like it here in the middle. I couldn’t imagine my life without both of my sisters. And now that I am a Big Sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, I can’t imagine my life without all three of my sisters.
Two years ago, I adopted a Little Sister, and in many ways, she adopted me too. My Little had a Big before me who moved away. And I had a Little before her who decided I was a conflict to her social life. So when we were finally matched, it felt like we were meant for each other all long.
My Little is ten-years-old going on thirty-one. Today was our first lunch date of 5th grade, and I expected her to be wearing eyeliner or black nail polish. After three months of summer vacation, she may have grown a little, but she’s still the same smart, sweet girl I remember. I guess eyeliner and black nail polish don’t happen until middle school. Or high school in my case. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Since 3rd grade, we’ve had lunch every Friday at her school. We usually play a board game or do some coloring. But I still remember the very first time we connected on a deeper level. I asked her to help me with a special project. I had been developing photos in the darkroom, and I needed to finish a roll of film. We walked out into the schoolyard during lunchtime, and I handed her my camera.
At first, she was shy, but as soon as her friends noticed what she was holding, they gathered around her and started making silly faces. They made her feel relaxed, and before long, she was working the camera like a natural. This moment reminded me of the first time I got my own camera and started seeing the world through a new lens. It’s something I still feel, even when I’m not holding a camera. When we went through her prints the following week, I could tell she was proud in her own quiet sort of way. I was proud too.
Not only is my Little Sister a talented photographer, but she is also an excellent storyteller. If you haven’t figured this out by now, I am a sucker for a good story. Some of them are so good, they must be true! My favorite story is about a wedding tradition in the small Mexican village where her parents were married. The groom must present ten chickens to the parents of the bride. The chickens show up at the wedding and mingle with guests before getting served for dinner. She claims she saw the home video of her parents’ wedding, and the chickens were definitely at the party. I believe her. I think I will make this part of my wedding tradition when I get married someday. My Little Sister reminds me that I will need to find a husband first.
Her favorite question to ask is, “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” I skip over the long answer and tell her, “I’m still looking.” Then I make my best attempt to save her from all future heartbreak. I tell her to take her time finding the right one. He should be kind and respectful. And if he isn’t both of these things, then we need to find a new one. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t like boys yet, but when she does, which is also when she will start wearing eyeliner and black nail polish, I’ll be here to remind her.
In addition to photography and storytelling, my Little Sister and I both love Chocolate Chip Cookies. On our last visit before summer vacation, I offered to bring her anything she wanted for lunch. She made a simple request for my homemade chocolate chip cookies. So I surprised her today with some that I freshly baked. Lucky for you, I’ve decided to share my recipe below. Maybe you’ll bake them for a Little Sister or a Big Sister or some other special friend. Just try not to eat them all by yourself. Been there. Done that. Next.
Do Some Good: It’s Hammer Time
My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 2/3 cups (16 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat until incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat for 5 seconds. (Note: If you don’t have an electric mixer, you can use a hand mixer.)
- Add half of the flour mixture and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until incorporated.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips.
- Use a teaspoon to drop the dough onto the lined baking sheets. I usually fit about 12 cookies (3×4 rows) per baking sheet.
- Bake for 12 to 14 minutes.
- Remove baking sheet from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Then use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack. Let cookies cool completely.
- Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.