Tag Archives: siblings

My (Slightly Less) Naughty Little Sister

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Hello, lovely reader!  How’s life treating you today?

Does anyone remember those stories about a little girl who was incredibly naughty, but essentially loveable?  They were called “My Naughty Little Sister”, and I remember reading them as a child and feeling a bit cheated by the stories’ inevitable happy endings.  If I’d got up to half of her shenanigans, I would never have been able to charm my way out of trouble the way that little girl did.  In fact, on many occasions I was that naughty, and it’s shocking how useless a winning smile and puppy dog eyes are when you’re dealing with angry teachers/parents/older siblings.

Anyway, as most of my social circle know, my siblings are the most important people in my life.  We are five very different people who happen to have the same face, and despite the obligatory childhood scraps and rivalries, we have ended up being very close friends as adults.  Last night I had a long phone conversation with my little sister: nothing major, just a nice, lengthy catch up and a bit of gossip.  But it was, as all of my conversations with my siblings are, very rewarding.  There are a few reasons for this, and for the existence of siblings in general being a brilliant thing.

First of all, there is nothing like having someone just like you around to validate your existence (and personality, in some cases).  I know that I can say to my little sister “I’m worried about this”, or “I really don’t like that”, and she will always understand where I’m coming from.  Like everyone else, I sometimes worry that I am very weird and that everyone else is a lot better at life than I am.  Having four people in my life who share my neuroses, genetic predispositions and slightly odd frame of cultural reference makes me feel like a proper human being.  I may well be very weird, but I am not alone.  Having siblings puts you into context, and that’s extremely valuable.

Secondly, siblings – even twins – are never entirely identical as people, and it’s a constant source of pride and joy to me that my siblings all pursue different ambitions.  It’s amazing how different close relatives can really be, and talking to my little sister about her degree (which is in science, of all things.  Can you imagine?) reminds me how important it is to respect other people’s passions.  It’s easy to go through life assuming that we know pretty much everything about our nearest and dearest, and we may not share their beliefs or aspirations, but it’s always worth checking in on them from time to time.  I love hearing my little sister talk about her life, because it’s so different from mine.

Thirdly, I am a very typical big sister in that I hate the idea of my younger siblings repeating my mistakes.  I mean, really.  If you’re going to mess things up then at least have the decency to be original about it.  Jeez.  Seriously, though: I have messed up enough times and been hurt often enough to recognise the danger signs in my little brother and sister, and I dread to think of them going through some of the rubbish that I put myself through at their age because of pride, misplaced affections or your basic, thoughtless drunkenness.  Thankfully, my younger siblings are a lot more sensible than I am, and my little sister in particular is a wise old soul (for a twenty-one year old).  Talking to her and hearing her opinions reminds me that she is a lot smarter than I was at her age, and if she is slightly less naughty than I am, that can only be a good thing.

I know that I am very, very lucky to get on so well with my multitudinous siblings, but I think that the essential elements of our relationships are the same for friends and family members from all walks of life.  It doesn’t matter how alienated you may be now, or how little you think you have in common: your siblings are the people most like you on earth, whether that’s in terms of personality or physical appearance, and their influence on your life is incomparable with anything else.  Even if they annoy you, bore you or just have far too many embarrassing stories to tell about you: they will always be a huge part of who you are.

And that’s a very good thing, because you’re wonderful.  Have a cracker of a Wednesday.

Judgement Call

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Good morning and happy Saturday to you!  D’you know, I only discovered yesterday that this is another bank holiday weekend.  Thank goodness those poor, tired bankers are having a well-earned rest from the arduous task of stealing our money.

As you can see, I’ve just made a mass-judgement about bankers based on the global financial crisis, and although that’s not exactly a controversial opinion, I’m sure that there are nice, compassionate people among the financiers of Canary Wharf.  (Don’t look at me like that.  It could happen.)

What makes you judge someone?  Do you assume that someone is trendy (and therefore a bad person) because they’re sporting a beard and skinny jeans?  Do you dub someone a saint in your mind because you witness them buying a Big Issue?  Do you lose respect for a friend when you discover that they enjoy the musical stylings of Justin Bieber?

I do, and if you’re honest I think you do, too.  Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a preachy post about how we need to be less judgemental (although I think we should probably give it a go, shouldn’t we?  Yeah, alright.  I will if you will).  Instead, I would like to identify a few things that we absolutely should judge people based on:

1) How they talk about their elders
Even if someone doesn’t have the best relationship in the world with their biological parents, everyone has parental figures in their lives from whom they have learned a great deal.  The way that someone talks about their mum, older sibling, grandparent, favourite teacher etc. tells you a lot about what made them who they are, and how big a part of their personality is informed by a sense of respect.

2) Sense of humour
Don’t be misled here: I don’t mean that you should judge people based on which sitcoms they like, or whether they’re fans of the Cornetto Trilogy.  By “sense of humour” I mean how they respond to day-to-day life: do they laugh when they fall over in public, or throw a hissy fit?  Do they snigger at others’ misfortune, or are they sympathetic?  A person’s sense of humour demonstrates very clearly what their priorities are and how much perspective they have.

3) Social standing
Again, don’t get the wrong idea: I’m not suggesting that we split the world into Breakfast Club characters.  What I mean is, you can tell a lot about someone by how their friends behave around them.  For example, my brother is the dad figure in his friendship group at uni.  This amuses me because I know him well enough (obviously) to know that how his friends see him accurately reflects his personality.

4) How (much) they feel about stuff
Obviously we can’t have an opinion about everything, but you can make fairly accurate assumptions about someone based on how much they care about their interests, ambitions and morals.  It doesn’t really matter what the interests are (within the limits of morality and the law, of course) as long as the person cares about them.  Apathy is the enemy of romance, art, the progress of science and half-decent conversation.

5) How they feel about you
For your own sake, you should definitely make judgements based on how someone treats you, and how they feel about you.  Someone who loves you (and acts like it) is clearly an excellent human being, and someone who does not is not worth your time.  Also, who wouldn’t love you?  You’re adorable!

Have a lovely, relaxing Saturday.  Maybe go for a long walk.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Good morning and Happy Mother’s Day!

Today is obviously a good day to tell your mum how much she means to you, and as soon as I’ve written this I will skidaddle off to Watford to do just that.  Before I do, I’d like to pay homage to some of the best mums I know:

  • The Single Mums

One of my best friends is a single mum, and she manages to juggle a career in the arts (and all the ambition, uncertainty and madness that goes along with it) with being a mum to a gorgeous little boy.  When I was a teenager I used to babysit for a single mum who had been through a lot of terrible things, but she was the most gentle, compassionate and fun person I’d ever met.  I have so much respect for single mums and dads who raise their children with high standards and a lot of love.

  • The Dear Departed Mums

My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a parent.  I can’t imagine the pain that that kind of loss entails.  To the mothers who are no longer with us: we miss you.  Thank you for the lives you made.  You have left your families with fond and happy memories, and they will think of you during good times and bad for the rest of their lives.  Your example will serve as an inspiration to your children whenever they have to make a decision or work through difficulties.

  • The Not Yet Mums

I am not a mother and neither is my house mate Ash, but she definitely takes care of me the way a mother would.  My life is full of maternal, compassionate people who are not mothers but will make damn good ones one day (except the boys; they’ll be terrible mothers), and I’m very grateful for them.  If you have a nurturing instinct you can guarantee that your friends adore you for it, because there’s an incredible sense of safety and confidence that comes from knowing someone will always look after you.

  • The Surrogate Mums

It might be because I’m very close to my family, but I’ve always thought it was important to make an effort to connect with my friends’ families.  Sometimes I have taken it too far: my two oldest friends’ mothers essentially dragged me up (and one of them was still force-feeding me vitamins when I was nineteen).  Wonderful, generous, warm-hearted women they may be, but they’re also honorary parents in my head.

  • My Actual Mum

My mother has given me so much: a terrible short-term memory, the tendency to leave mugs of coffee all over the place, four lunatic siblings whom I cannot live without, inspiration, a brilliant example, confidence, an education, humour and above all an enormous amount of love.  I am constantly bowled over by the lengths my mum will go to to look after her children, and I hope that if I ever become a mother I will be just like her: selfless, strong and incredibly kind.  (It’s highly likely that I will be more prone to sarcasm, forgetfulness and accidentally leaving my kids in shopping centres, but her characteristics are what I’ll be aiming for.)

Happy Mother’s Day one and all.  I hope that your Sunday involves awesome things like Yorkshire pudding.