With Family Weekend looming on the horizon, conversations have been filled with plans for brunches, reunions and photo shoots on Taylor Lake. Unfortunately, importing my family from our sunny southern home in Georgia proved a bit too difficult this time around, and so it will be December before I see my parents or siblings again.
Maybe it’s just being a thousand miles away, but since I’ve been at Colgate I really feel as though my relationship with my family has improved, especially with the aforementioned siblings. While everyone knows that parents come in handy through the years when it comes to things like food, clothing and perhaps funding our college educations, the relative function or even worth of siblings has occasionally crossed my mind. While it’s always nice to have someone to share the blame with when great-grandma’s prized antique oil lamp gets shattered during a particularly vicious session of hide and seek, there is definitely a list of pros and cons when it comes to brothers and sisters.
An intrinsic part of siblinghood seems to be competition. Before the advent of cell phones, who doesn’t remember arguing over use of the landline? Even worse was the fight for bathroom time. Why exactly my older brother needed to take hour-long showers, I’m still not sure, but sibling rivalry is inescapable in multi-child households. Whether the comparison is between how clean rooms are kept, grades, proficiency in sports, musical talent or the number flawless victories achieved in the latest Mortal Kombat game, brothers and sisters are likely to have some sort of ongoing contest.
And then there’s borrowing things without asking. From clothing, to CDs, to automobiles, if you’re not an only child, then at some point you probably had a major blow-out with a sibling because one of you borrowed an item without permission. These fights get especially bad when the possession in question is (a), a favorite object of the owner, (b) accidentally broken, damaged, or destroyed during the borrowing process, or (c) option (a) and (b). Nothing turns the house into a war zone faster than your older sister discovering the skirt she planned to wear out on a hot date is irrevocably mud-stained because you wore it to the rodeo two days ago. Another great thing about siblings is that they know the best ways to achieve revenge. And by great, I mean it’s probably time to hide your diary in a different spot.
Having siblings definitely has its high points, too. Growing up with someone gives you a mutual history and a deeper understanding of the other’s personality. Having a brother or a sister is like having a guide to life on your level, instead of the parental viewpoint. Siblings can be confidantes and sources of good advice when things inevitably get crazy. They will always understand the jokes you make about your family and might even think you’re funny. They also tend to serve as examples to the younger children of what behaviors to emulate and what to definitely not get caught doing.
Hopefully, having a sibling means there’s someone else looking out for you. Someone to save you a seat on the bus, help you with your math homework or comfort you by saying your ex-boyfriend turned out to be a jerk and didn’t deserve you anyway. Brothers and sisters, no matter how rocky the relationships may be, are reminders that you are not alone in an adult’s world. They’ve gone through what you’re facing, or they will someday soon.
So give them some credit. No matter how bizarre you might think they are, let your siblings know you appreciate them this weekend, whether they can visit for Family Weekend or not. Remember that even though they’re probably jealous of you for being in college, on some level they miss having you around to pester. So while you’re wearing the clothing you filched from their closet before you left, give them a call and express some brotherly or sisterly affection. After all, family is love.