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Observations of a little sister

When thinking about your relationships with your significant other or your friends, one of the things that often comes to mind is how long you’ve known each other. But you usually don’t think about this when it comes to your family. You don’t think about how long you’ve known your parents or how long you’ve known your siblings — or more accurately if you’re younger (of the siblings, since you’re obviously younger than your parents), how long they’ve known you.

Me and my sister at one of the temple ruins in Siem Reap, Cambodia in 2005.

This thought crossed my mind recently because it’s my sister’s birthday on Friday. She’ll be 27. That number doesn’t seem right because I just don’t picture her as having reached her late twenties. In my mind, she’s still 25 and smack dab in the middle of them because that’s the last time I really celebrated her birthday with her (meaning we went out). But then I remember I’m already 24.

So, my sister has known me for almost a quarter century. I would say I’ve known her, as in really known her, for about 20 or 21 years since the earliest I can remember back is around when I was 3 or 4 years old.

It’s weird how fast time goes by.

And even though we no longer live in the same state and haven’t done so for more than a year and a half, I would say we’ve actually grown closer in the last few years and I even consider her a friend on top of my sister.

The two of us at her UW graduation in 2006.

However, no matter how close we’ve become, there are just some aspects of our relationship that are unique to siblings. I say this because in addition to living them with my sister, I’ve also observed them among my friends and their sibling relationships.

First, there’s the way the older sibling orders around the younger one.

Even with 3,000 miles between us, my sister still makes me check things online for her when she doesn’t have access to the Internet; she still makes me go into her room here and check her drawers, closet, desk, etc. for whatever item she thinks she may have left at home. Notice how I say makes, not asks. Although, nowadays she will begin with, “Can you…” it’s still an order. No two ways about it. I’ve seen this behavior in others as well. Wynn calls it Older Sibling Syndrome. Apparently, it just comes with being born first.

Second, there’s the way the younger sibling obeys their older siblings’ orders.

We may despise being told what to do, but for some reason we do it anyway. We grumble, groan, bitch and moan about it, but that doesn’t stop us from checking their emails, printing things out for them or searching their rooms for god knows what. This is probably what you’d call Younger Sibling Syndrome. It’s engrained into our brains at an early age to do what they say because back then, they were bigger than us. We looked up to them and probably wanted to be just like them. Of course, there’s always the threat of being beat up or being told on hanging over our heads if we don’t listen.

At my twenty-first birthday celebration, she bought me my first drink: a vodka cranberry.

Third, there’s the way siblings form a team against their parents.

How many times have you said to your brother or sister, or have they said to you, “Don’t tell Mom and Dad…”? It’s just the way it works. Whether it’s acts of rebellion or your dating life, there are some things you’re just not keen on your parents knowing — at least not right away. You confide in your siblings because you know (usually) they won’t tell on you. Mostly it’s because they know you could always tell on them for something else. Siblings also team up when they want or don’t want something done to or with the household.

And fourth, (somewhat related to the last) siblings usually know exactly the kind of crap you go through with your parents.

No matter how much you talk to your friends or significant other about it, they just won’t understand. They may have similar issues with their own parents, but it won’t be exactly like yours. Your siblings not only witness it, but they usually also live it. So, they know.

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2 comments on “Observations of a little sister

  1. What a great post! There was an article in Time magazine a few years ago about how siblings shape you life even more than your parents do because oyu spend more time with them. And I can totally relate to “don’t tell mom and dad”. =)

  2. Yay, I no longer suffer from Y.S.S. Then again taking orders has never really been my strong suit!

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