I come from a very girlie family, me, I'm surrounded by sisters.
There are four of us, actually: my older sister Tash, then me, then my two half sisters, Katie and Claire. We're a pretty solid group of Ms Joneses.
I seem to remember, some time ago, sending a card to Tasha, saying that a sister was just the best thing a girl could have. I'd been reminded of it you see, watching Ava and Ruby and their burgeoning relationship.
When Tasha and I were little, we had our moments. I threw a phone at her once and gave her a black eye. But previous to that (or was it after? Not sure) she told me very sweetly I should draw up and down the entire length of the wall leading up the stairs with wax crayons (yup, you can't emulsion over those very easily). She also hid months' worth of uneaten packed lunches under MY bed!
But despite our rows and sneaks and fist fights, we were also incredibly close, without perhaps even realising it. We shared secrets and did naughty stuff together. There was definitely a sense of 'us' and 'them' and it could only have made our grown-up relationship stronger.
I think about that sometimes, and I catch myself as I'm inadvertently about to upset the natural order of things. The other week, for example, when we were all pottering about upstairs, I went into the girls' room to see what they were up to (it was strangely quiet), and saw that Ruby had decided to empty the wardrobe of its contents.
I was pretty sure it was Ruby, and not Ava, who had done it because Ava was quietly looking at a book by the window... and Ruby was inside the wardrobe, where the folded clothes had once been.
I don't know about you, but having to fold a week's worth of clothes twice in one morning winds me up a bit.
"Ru-BY!" I said. "Why did you do that?! We could make you a den downstairs. I've JUST put all this stuff away."
I don't know why I told her that. She knew I'd just put it all away because she'd just watched me put it all away, and seeing it all being put away was probably what gave her the idea in the first place.
I gently pulled Ru out of the wardrobe by her legs and plopped her on the bed, much to her disgruntlement. I began re-folding (less carefully than before) and putting mini tops and trousers back on to the shelves.
But Ru was there by my side – she pulled out a T-shirt, and said: "No, mummy!"
Clearly she was as incensed about me wrecking her den as I was about her ruining my folding.
"No, Ruby," I said sternly. She stuck out her bottom lip, sat on the bed and watched me.
When I went to leave the room, Ruby got up, a little too prematurely, and headed for the wardrobe. I did that thing, where you make a loud 'AHEM' noise and raise your eyebrows in a manner that says: "I don't think so, lady."
Ru stroked the wardrobe door, to show me that stroking the wardrobe door was all she'd intended to do, actually.
Then I said it.
"Ava, if you see Ruby pulling all that stuff out of the wardrobe again, you tell me, okay?"
She looked very pleased indeed. "YES, Mummy!"
Oh noooooo. Immediately, it didn't feel right. I didn't want to set them against each other, to encourage them to dob each other in! It'll come naturally enough to both of them, when they need to save their skins over some heinous wax-crayon-related crime or other, I'm sure. But to encourage them to score brownie points with Mummy, by tittle-tattling at the first opportunity? Nah.
"Actually, Ava, forget that. Don't tell me." Ava looked a bit confused. "You don't need to tell me, honey. In fact, let's all go downstairs and make a den. Or some crumpets."
Am I making a rod for my own back with this? Am I? I am aren't I?
Them vs Us just seems to make my heart happier (if not my clean washing).