I have a little sister, Olivia. She is small and very funny (Charlie and Lola, anyone?). Actually, my little sister is thirteen, and not so small. Precisely nine and a half years younger than me.
We talk a lot. We are sisters after all. But, like any close relationship, there’s a lot that is left unsaid.
Here are 7 honest truths I’m too nice (and too awkward) to tell my little sister.
- We Were Fine Before You Came Along
Kicking this off with nice warm and fuzzy feels, I’d just like to remind you that our family was doing just fine without you. Before you came along, we were the perfect nuclear family. Mum and dad, a brother and a sister, a tabby cat named Tiger. I had my swing set in the backyard and a cubby house and, when Josef wasn’t causing trouble and breaking all the things, basically the undivided attention of mum and dad. It was a great time. I was the youngest and enjoyed all the benefits that come along with that. That is, until you decided to be born.
It all started with Tiger. Mum was scared that our crazy cat would scratch The Baby like he had scratched all of our furniture and family members by this point, and decided he had to go (he was here first so…?). From that point on, I knew. Everything had to be about The Baby, (oh btw, I called you “The Baby” or “It” up until about a week after you were born).
While it was the tiniest bit exciting to be getting a new baby sister, I’ll still never forgive you for coming in and turning everything upside-down.
2. You Were The Most Annoying Baby
I don’t know who you thought you were, but you came in like a wrecking ball. Firstly, the crying. You did not stop crying. But it wasn’t just crying, it was screaming. Constantly.
I thought maybe we could be friends and I would rock your crib and sing lullabies to you, but I guess the demons within you just couldn’t be quieted. There was one particularly memorable car trip where all five of us were driving to a far-away baby store to buy a fancy three-wheeler pram for you and your ungrateful baby butt did not stop screaming on the forty minute drive there, nor the forty minute drive back.
Then there was the constant maintenance. Who would have known that babies need to be watched all the time, fed, changed, bathed, dressed, burped, walked. And when mum and dad had a bit too much on their plates, guess who the responsibility fell to? (We both know our brother was useless). No Year 5 kid should have to come home, finish their marine life diorama, write out their spelling words (look, cover, write, check), and then change a dirty nappy and run a lukewarm bath.
3. You’ll Never Know The Struggle
Mum and dad came to Australia with two kids and $50 in their pocket (ok I’m exaggerating here but you get the gist).
We used to have one car, a 1987 Toyota Corolla. We would each get one present for Christmas, plus a chocolate Santa (I would, without fail, trade my toy for Josef’s chocolate). Our pocket money was $1 a week. We went on holidays once a year to some sleepy coastal town and stayed in MOTELS, Olivia! Do you even know what those are??
Josef and I slept in a bunk bed. We only had one bathroom in the house back then. All of our clothes were hand-me-downs from our older cousins. Name brand food was not a thing in our household. And McDonald’s? Nah fam, there’s food at home.
The one computer in our house was a cube. So was our TV. We had five channels to choose from, and whatever mum picked was what we all had to watch (actually nothing much has changed there). There was none of the Foxtel, Youtube, or Netflix choice of today. And if I wanted to talk to my friends after school, I’d have to wait until whoever was using the dial-up internet to be done, only to not be able to reach my friend because HER dad was using the internet.
These days, as hard as mum and dad try not to spoil you, you still live in a world where you have significantly more choice, not just in which Youtube channel you’ll waste your time on tonight, but even in what you choose to pursue. Mum and dad worked their butts off, day in and day out, so that Josef and I could have piano lessons and play soccer on the weekends. For you though, it’s not such a big deal.
4. You’ll Never Be Me, So Don’t Even Try
I know you look up to me. You include it in every one of those exercises at school where they make you write about someone you look up to (or maybe you’re just trying to play the system and get extra points by writing this mushy stuff). I know you come and hang out in my room when I’m not around (weird much?). I know you steal my expensive hair products and play with my makeup (at least you used to a couple of years back). I’m glad you see me as a positive role model, but it’s also a bit scary because it’s a huge responsibility.
The fact is, you’ll never be me. But you know what, you’re you, and that’s infinitely better in my opinion. You have your own unique gifts- natural confidence, musical talent, quick wit, determination and the crazy ability to make friends everywhere you go.
When you were a toddler, this old lady on a bench at Parramatta station told Dad and me that you would one day be a famous speaker. You were constantly talking, asking questions and had no problem walking up to strangers and delivering earnest lectures on what you had for breakfast that day. When I was a kid, I was super shy and preferred to watch the world go by from the comfort of my pram.
You’ll never be me, you’ll be better.
5. When I’m Mean To You, I Really Don’t Mean it
You will have noticed by now, Olivia, that “I love you” isn’t really in our family’s vocabulary. Instead, we say things like “your nose is a bit flat, but nothing surgery can’t fix” (Dad), or “You’ll never get a husband” (Mum), or “Why is one of your eyes bigger than the other?” (Josef) and “You’re literally the most annoying person I know” (Me).
When I tease you endlessly for mispronouncing one word, or make quality memes out of that picture where you’re only blinking with one eye, when I tell you to get out of my room and roast the fact that you’re still too uncoordinated to spread nutella on your toast, please believe that it’s the unhealthy way I’ve learned to say “I love you”.
When you get 98% on your science test and I ask about the other 2%, I hope you can see that I’m really, really proud of you. When you come first in the 100m sprint and I tell you that no one cares, what I’m really saying is, get out of my room so I can text my friends about how awesome my sister is in peace. I just can’t bring myself to say the words because… ew.
You just have to read between the lines around here. Sorry.
6. You’re Actually A Really Talented And Cool Individual
High school is a weird time. Cliques and stereotypes abound and before you know it, you’re in the Popular Girls or the Band Nerds or the Sporty Group or The Couples That Spend All Of Lunch Time Cuddling And Staring Into Each Other’s Eyes Only To Break Up The Next Week Club.
Everyone is insecure, trying to forge their unique identities, going through puberty at varying speeds and desperate to fit in. It’s easy to find a group that accepts you and then assume the ‘role’ that you feel you have to play.
What’s more, the whole school system is in on it. When you get your report at the end of the term and it says A for English and C for maths, you start to put yourself into a box and limit yourself to what your teachers and your marks determine is true about you.
Don’t let anyone else decide who you are except you. You’re not just “The Pretty One”, “The Nice One”, “The Funny One” or “The Smart One”, you can literally be anything you want to be.
7. And The Seventh Thing, I’ll Probably Never Tell You, You Make Me Love You ❤
Yup. It’s true.
No matter what you do, and where you go, I’ll always be there for you.
Always trying to convince you you’re adopted.
Your big sister Layla.
Do you relate to my family’s dysfunctional communication style? I want to hear about it in the comments!