Three Teenage Things: Oh, Brother

7:30 AM


There's this certain family I know that seemed to me the quintessential family. Sure, they struggled to keep their hands off each other, sometimes; they would naturally tease one other. But for all I knew, they couldn't do without each other - until I congratulated the eldest on their familial success. The response was astounding. All my people-watching expertise crashed.

"We can't stand each other."

Oh, to be sure, I, the Pious Sister, launched into a subtle sermon: "Don't say that - you don't mean that - you can't mean that."

I ought not to have been surprised - in general, I mean. How many people under the age of eighteen admit to undying affection for their siblings? I see eye-rolls - I hear, "I'm gonna tell Mom if you don't leave us alone!" - I feel the awkwardness of siblings being emotionally shoved away. Usually it's us Elder Folks who are to blame, we siblings with an entourage of younger ones behind us, we who have entered puberty and want nothing more than a good cry in the bedroom...not another little sister hogging our attention.

Personally, I love little kids - the little, little ones, the three-year-olds and two-years-olds. They're such funny persons. Please, bring them along and let them crawl in my lap and unbutton my sweater and do my hair. And I love my siblings.

Some of them. When I'm in the mood. When I don't have to sacrifice peace or sanity or privacy or time.

I have not reached perfection in this area; and lately I've been noticing I haven't even started that road at all. An exasperated "Just a MINUTE." A curt "No" to allurements of Monopoly - Guess Who? - anything you want to play, Bailey!

Get off the couch. Don't touch me. Go away. Get out. I don't want you.

Because did you know siblings can be annoying? That they can talk a mile a minute and end up in Timbuktu whether you're interested or not? That they are totally oblivious to closed eyes and shut doors?

I like the ones that are intelligent and funny and likable...the ones I go to with my troubles...the ones I admire...the ones who don't get into trouble every half-second. I can't stand those Other Ones, if you know what I mean.

I was content to focus on my excellent relationships with the nicer bunch and claim myself a role model to other miserly siblings. But an older girl I really admire, a sophomore in college now, wrote me very quietly and earnestly to embrace my siblings. Now. Before it's too late. Even the ones who are unlovable and unlovely - those, she said, are the ones who need your love most.

The poll on my blog revealed that one of my readers can't stand his siblings, four try to get along, six get along quite well with some siblings and ten - ten - said they all get along just wonderfully. I think somebody is fudging the truth somewhere. "Getting along" is one thing - truly embracing, drawing in and loving one's siblings is completely different. Fewer spats and less hair pulling definitely is a big step toward reconciliation, but as my friend went on, time spent with siblings, especially younger siblings, is absolutely priceless...and limited.

We'll never have this opportunity again. We'll never get the chance to be a full-time big sister once we're out of the house and gone. And we'll never know what we've lost until it's too late to go back and fix it.

When I think of starting my own home, I think of everything I am escaping first - screaming toddlers, brotherly fistfights, sisters who talk way too late into the night (actually, I think my little sisters can complain of this more than I can). Then I think - and it's terrifying, really - "How will they remember me?" After the excitement of weddings and housewarming parties, when the family gathers around the living room and reminisces, will my siblings remember my faults the most, the times I yelled at them, the times I shoved them away, the times I said (too much), "I'm busy"? Or will they be able to honestly say, "She loved us. She was always sweet and patient with us. Other people got sick of us and said we were annoying, but Bailey always listened and cared...I wish she were back home."

An adorable, smiley little boy I know told me his big brother hates him. He said his two older sisters ignore him. This boy is cute. He's sweet. And he adores his siblings. What's up with them?
That's terrible.
Yet it's accepted - even cool and teenager-ly - to roll one's eyes over siblings, shoo the annoying ones off and sympathize with the sister who has to babysit all the time. But girls, let's step back and really refocus. Let's include the younger ones. Let's give space to the older ones. Let's shower hugs and kisses and compliments - and time, lots of it. Let's not just keep from screaming at each other - let's make each other laugh and love.

Now. Before it's too late.

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4 impressions

  1. A little while ago, I was considering my relationship with my four year old sister, and I had a scary realization: If I get married and/or move out when I am, say, 21, she will be only 8.
    I need to make this time with her really matter! I don't want to waste the whole time bossing her and telling her to leave me alone. I want her, as you said, to remember me well!
    By the way, I really like your blog. Thank you for posting on such an important topic.
    <><

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  2. This is SO my heart, Bailey. My brother is my best friend in the whole world. There's no person I'd rather spend time with or goof off with than him, and it grieves my heart to see people who don't show love or speak kindly about their siblings. So thank you for this wonderful challenge to teens. Because their siblings are watching them, and learning from them. We older siblings play a huge part (probably much bigger than we realize) in shaping what kind of person those younger siblings will become. Thanks! :)

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  3. Girls, that's so encouraging to see you living out real brotherly love!

    Or sisterly, as it were.

    Aemi, if I marry at around age twenty-three, my baby sister will be about the same age as yours. And we're bestest little buds right now. Your heart is just where it should be.

    Sara, I have several brothers I adore too. I think they're the funniest things ever and some of the biggest blessings I've received so far. :o)

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  4. I needed this, Bailey. You don't know me, but I really, really needed this. Thank you.

    In Christ,
    Allison

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