Scenes from the Bus Stop and Beyond #sol



That's me on the left.  In the quite tight and short shorts (seriously, Mom, what WERE you thinking?), the only one not looking at the camera.  Instead, I'm beaming at my big sister,in her crisp maroon and gray plaid uniform, second from the right.  She was going off to school with all the "big kids" from the neighborhood, and man, did I want to go, too.  

When you are the younger sister, you are always waiting for your turn, watching your older sister get to do it all before you.  Always a step behind.  When you are the younger sister and your older sister is naturally gifted, can put together a puzzle of the United States in under a minute at age 6, can name all the capitals of all the states, is good at drawing and fits into all the cute clothes you are too big to squish into.....it can be rather hard.  When she wins trophies and contests and full scholarships, you can see your work is cut out for you.  When she qualifies for the gifted program and your scores say you don't, it can feel deflating, devastating.  You can feel like you are less than, not good enough, no matter what loving family members say to reassure you.  

So what is the chubby, curly-haired un-gifted sister to do? Work hard.  Be a hard worker.  And even though your scores say you aren't "gifted", you rack up those hundreds on tests because you try. so. hard.  It isn't effortless but the bar has been set and you try to reach it, even though you never quite get there. That big sister always does it better, always ranks higher.  

In time, you see that while you may not be as "gifted", you still do have gifts and they are uniquely your own.  And you stop chasing the legend and start creating your own path with your own distinct goals and achievements.    

But let's be honest- you are still in awe of her.  Her intelligence, her vocabulary, her memory, her wardrobe, her ability to wear heels, the silky straightness of her hair, her slimness, the way she can prepare delicious foods you can't even pronounce.  Her ability to make friends wherever she goes, her confidence.  30 years might have gone by, but you will always look at her like that, because she is your amazing sister. 

 In fact, you owe her.  If she wasn't so awesome, you might not have gotten that fire inside you that pushed you to work hard and keep striving.  While you never quite caught up, you built your endurance.  When the path curved and you stopped chasing her, and started finding your own way, you were better for having done the chasing.  

To the little curly-haired chubby sister on the left, keep smiling.  It's hard to be in the shadows but you'll find your sunshine soon enough. That sister of yours is forever on your side and will be your best friend for life. 

Comments

  1. So interesting... both who you thought you were and how you perceived your older sister and how you learned to deal with both. I happened to be the older sister star in my family...the one my seven siblings had to live up to...and they never forgave me for it. Families are very complicated...glad your story had a happy ending.

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    1. Thanks Barbara! Perceptions are funny. Today I read Judy Bloom's The Pain and the Great One to my class, perfect after today's post. The older sister narrates the first part of the book about how her parents love her younger brother best and why she has it hard and he has it easy. Then the younger brother narrates the second half and of course thinks the parents love the sister best and she has it easy. I shared my post with my sister and it was funny how she was surprised at my perspective and saw things differently. I didn't know you had 7 siblings- wow! They had a lot to live up to!

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  2. What a lovely perspective! Instead of bitterness, you choose gratitude. Now doubt your sister is a blessing, just as you are to so many around you. Thanks for sharing this delightful story!

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  3. As an older sister, I can truly appreciate every word of your post today. I wonder if my sister ever felt this way... :) Love the picture, too! I think there's one of me wearing the same outfit somewhere in my photo box.

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  4. As an older sister, I can truly appreciate every word of your post today. I wonder if my sister ever felt this way... :) Love the picture, too! I think there's one of me wearing the same outfit somewhere in my photo box.

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  5. This is lovely. Family dynamics are tricky - but the love is always there.

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  6. This is lovely. Family dynamics are tricky - but the love is always there.

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  7. Did you see the #tothegirls hashtag on Twitter last week? If not, check it out. You should be tweeting this post, as well as the essence of it in 140 characters or less, using that hashtag.

    I'm an only, so I don't know what it's like to live in the shadow of someone else. What I do know, as an educator and a mom, is that you're stronger because you had to work harder and dig deeper to become your own person. You should be so proud of the person you are.

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    1. Thank you so much Stacey. I missed #tothegirls last week and checked it out after reading your comments. I tweeted the post using that hashtag! Thanks for the encouragement. My relationship with my sister is precious to me but complicated. When I saw this picture of us at the bus stop, and the way I was beaming at her, what I wanted to say came together. Thanks for your kind words....learning to appreciate the things I can do and trying not to focus on the things I can't. :)

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  8. this IS A great post! I love how you turned the green eyed monster into a challenge to succeed. I was the oldest - so I know perfection! (JK)

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    1. Hahaha! The "perfect" older sister....of course! Thanks for your kind words.

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