Chicken nugget love

“Help one another, is part of the religion of sisterhood.”
~Louisa May Alcott

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I often write about how Hope is good sister to Rhema. I’ve shared stories about the things she has already sacrificed in her short life because of her sister’s autism.

Rarely do I highlight the ways Rhema is a blessing to Hope.

Sisterhood for my girls is very different from my own experiences with sisters. My sisters and I are very close, and there was a time I grieved that my daughters would not have that kind of relationship.

They exist in a silent camaraderie, their lives one long parallel play session. Their chairs are always side by side – at the dinner table, in the car. They take baths together. They give hugs (well, Hope hugs and Rhema tolerates). There is an honest togetherness about them.

But Rhema has never spontaneously said Hope’s name (she has trouble with the sounds). They’ve never played on the playground with each other or had a sleepover or attended a show together or shared in pretend play. They’ve never shared a real conversation with words.

Yet Hope has no doubt that Rhema loves her. It’s as certain as the morning. Since their love is not always expressed in typical ways, I’ve wondered how Hope is so sure.

It came to me at McDonald’s.

Hope has a long list of food allergies, including wheat, but over the years she’s developed a tolerance to McDonald’s chicken nuggets. If the breading from the nuggets is removed she can eat them without having a reaction. I used to spend too much time carefully de-breading Hope’s nuggets, until one day Rhema quietly took over the job. (She’d been paying attention all along).

For the past couple years, without fail, Rhema meticulously peels and nibbles off every little piece of skin from those nuggets. (Eight nuggets in total because there are 4 nuggets in a Happy Meal and they both get Happy Meals. Sometimes they get Mighty Kids Meals with 6 nuggets apiece, so that’s twelve nuggets total!) And then she tosses the chicken (can we call it that?) onto Hope’s plate. She never eats the whole nugget – she saves the chicken for Hope.

She even used to go so far as to dunk the nuggets into Hope’s ketchup for her. Rhema detests ketchup; she knows Hope loves it. But Hope actually prefers to dunk her half-chewed, skinless nuggets into the ketchup herself. So Rhema has learned to back off and just throw the nuggets onto her plate.  

We’ve all agreed that Rhema is the fastest and best chicken-nugget-breading-chewer-offer in the world. Makes me so proud.

Rhema teaches Hope in ways that Hope is not even fully aware of yet. She never shows jealousy, she’s always willing to share, she’s observant and patient, steady as a rock. She makes the people in her life better for knowing her. She is a good sister, a faithful companion, a gift to Hope.

I wish everyone in this life a sister-friend who will eat the skin off your nuggets if you need her to.

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23 thoughts on “Chicken nugget love

  1. This is the most beautiful expression of sisterly love that I have ever read. Those two girls of yours are a precious gift, not just to each other but to us as well.

  2. I love this. It is the simple things that mean the most and this brought tears to my eyes. Stunning example of the relationship between your girls.

  3. I love it! I agree. It definitely goes both ways at our house too. It’s just different and maybe not so obvious at times. Daniel has made Zachary the most sensitive, brave, fighter for the under dog, hard worker (because his brother can’t always) and all around good person. It is SO strange that you wrote this because I was just putting a blog together in my head. The title? The sibs will save the world.

  4. Might re-think…. there are good recipes online for making your own at home and you can prob. do something w/ gluten-free allergy-free breading.

  5. What a great big sister. Rhema is a huge gift to us all. I believe Hope and Rhema will have a connection that very few people will ever be able to experience.

  6. Pingback: Her cheeseburger « Autism In a Word

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