His Sister; Her Brother

Like all siblings, my younger brother (we’ll call him N) isn’t perfect.  He has his strengths, and he has his flaws.  He has his hobbies and his pet peeves.  He has his birthday, his history…it’s what makes him a distinct individual.  So I don’t really understand why some adults, especially schoolteachers, find the necessity to compare us.

A common point they like to bring out is, “N and [Slightly] are very different.”  Really?  Let’s see here: I like Humanities and he likes Science; I like dance and he likes soccer.  And basketball.  And baseball.  And table tennis; I’ve never been a consistently straight A student while he’s a crazily straight A student all through primary school; I’m a girl and he’s a boy.  We’re very different?  Fair enough.

But in all seriousness: sure, we’re meant to be siblings and all, but I feel like when they say we’re “very different,” they’re merely stating the obvious fact that every individual supposed to be different.

I mean, probably the only thing N and I share is our family name.  And some genes.  (Bear in mind that I haven’t picked up a Biology textbook in six years so do correct me if I’m wrong.  Yes, I do mean you, KC — I know you’re reading this).  Otherwise, how exactly are we supposed to be “the same” just because we’re born under the same family tree?

Perhaps the most obvious answer is that this is some sibling rivalry thingamabob.

The thing is that there’s this idea circulating the school (among most teachers, anyway) that either I am his sister, or he is my brother.  I suppose it wouldn’t be bothering me so much if a little something called reputation isn’t playing a vital role.

Here’s the situation: this year marked the year N started his first year in secondary school (in simple terms, seventh grade.  Apparently, we call it secondary school).  He’s not exactly with completely new faces (classmate-wise) because we have this feeder school-like system that directly promotes primary students into secondary school unless otherwise noted, if I may put it that way.  On the other hand, he is exposed to a new world with new subjects like History and Geography, as well as new teachers.  In other words, it’s a new phase of (academic) life for N.

Meanwhile, I’m in my last year in high school, which is the sixth year of secondary school if we follow my school’s system.  This effectively puts N and I in the same campus all year before I graduate.  In other words, it doesn’t take too long for most of N’s teachers to figure out that we’re siblings — and I really don’t have a problem with that.

But back to the idea of reputation.  I’ve somehow (and inadvertently, to say the least) established myself to be a sociable but well-rounded girl who possesses leadership qualities.  It’s not that my “reputation” in school is particularly fantastic because I’m not the most popular and most approached student around, but I’m guessing that N’s teachers were really hoping to see these qualities being elicited out of N (except for the girl part).  Apparently not, according to his Math teacher (let’s call him Mr W) in particular.

For N’s part, he has usually been regarded as an intelligent but active boy who “admires his (damn crazy) sister.”  That last bit is questionable, because it’s only an observation made by the teachers.  Meanwhile, N and Mr W seem to have this love-hate teacher-student relationship that is moderately getting out of hand.  I know that my brother doesn’t really like Mr W, so I have a hunch that it’s what triggered the animosity.

Mr W often asks me why N and I are so different.  Well, that beats me, sir.  But does he, like all other teachers, really expect my brother and I to be the same?  If not, then how similar do they want us to be?

I’ve been told to “guide N along the path that would let others know him to be N’s sister.”  I know what that means, but at the same time I don’t.  Undoubtedly, I love my brother unconditionally (almost always true), but is that really necessary?  It may be a psychological impulse and for the “sake of identification,” but I can only say that I don’t really understand it.

What I don’t understand even more, however, is what is the profound, underlying difference between being “his sister” or him being “my brother.”  Perhaps there is none, but…why?

His Sister; Her Brother


2 thoughts on “His Sister; Her Brother

  1. I get this all the time with my brother. My parents like to compare us, and at school as well, he apparently gets compared to me quite a bit. People keep asking him if he bakes cookies (he doesn’t…not even from a box) and I think there’s a certain degree of pressure on him to get straight As, which is rather ridiculous, because he’s so much better at basketball than I am, and so much better at the social thing than I am. If he’s got so many strengths that I don’t have, it stands to reason that I’ll have strengths he doesn’t. It’s not really fair to me, either, because they’re basically expecting him to be better than me (to have all my good qualities and then some of his own). Not sure what that says about their opinion of me.

    Thankfully I’ve never been encouraged to guide my brother to be more like me. I certainly wouldn’t want him to be like me. He’s wonderful and amazing just the way he is. Personally, I’ve always felt that being siblings should give us some similar values and a sense of commitment towards each other, but that’s it. There’s no reason why he should be a pale imitation of me. I want him to have the freedom to be himself. I want him to feel that it’s okay for him to hate chemistry, even. [If you like Malcolm in the Middle: http://super-wolves.tumblr.com/post/65394706156/remember-that-episode-where-reese-thought-malcolm%5D

    I recall identical twins in my previous school who were so completely different (one was a very stereotypically feminine girl, into makeup and hair and all that, while the other was really sporty) and then there’s always the case of one twin who’s rather organised and responsible but not at all concerned about keeping papers neat and another twin rather impulsive but obsessed with not getting papers crinkled, you know who I mean… Siblings are often incredibly, incredibly different. [Some theories proposed here: http://www.npr.org/2010/11/18/131424595/siblings-share-genes-but-rarely-personalities%5D

    As for shared genetics, you share quite a large number of genes with him, actually. You also share quite a large number (50%) of genes with a banana, though, and nobody expects you to be anything like one of those. [http://www.nhm.ac.uk/print-version/?p=/nature-online/evolution/what-is-the-evidence/morphology/dna-molecules/index.html]

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