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.