Students discuss special connections with their much younger siblings

Rachel Dadoo, Assistant Opinions Editor

A day in the life of a high school student can be an emotionally and mentally engaging process. When some students return home from eight hours of hard work to the smiling face of a baby sibling, they forget about all of the challenges faced that day. Siblings are not merely individuals who possess similar genes,but are also individuals to whom you can confide worries and accomplishments, despite the fact that not all siblings may be at the age of comprehension. Numerous students have large age gaps between themselves and their siblings, with some even greater than ten years. According to these students, the experience is quite unique, as they have to take on some parenting responsibilities in addition to being an older sibling. Instead of discussing grades or exchanging gossip, these students aim to develop connections with siblings by making funny faces or watching “Paw Patrol” together while trying to feed their younger sibling Gerber’s applesauce, both of which are activities that can help a high school student de-stress from a busy day.

“[My two-year-old baby brother and I] love watching ‘Mickey Mouse’ and playing with his toys [together],” sophomore Annabelle Kirkendall, who is 14 years older than her sibling, said. “A lot of times he loves playing on the playgrounds, and I go on the slide with him. I love it.”

Some teenagers find it challenging to live with a toddler, particularly when they have to take on additional responsibilities to care for their siblings.

It was a little stressful because when [my brother] was born, my father was deployed over in Afghanistan, so it was just me and my mom trying to figure [everything out],” Kirkendall said.

One challenge of having a young sibling is that parental attention is always divided between juggling the needs of a toddler and trying to devote time to the older child. Teaching one child how to talk and helping another through the college process and typical teenage angst can be quite a shift for parents and a difficult balancing act.

The age gap can also affect several factors in building a strong bond, because mutual understanding, patience and communication are often needed to establish close relationships.

“[The eight-year age gap affected us in terms of] how my relationship unfolded with [my] oldest sister,” English teacher Kelsey Waddell, who has two significantly older sisters, said. “We have a really good relationship because she was always patient with me and she understood how much younger I was.”

There are several commitments students make in high school involving academics, extracurriculars and athletics, and the constant attention young siblings crave can pose a challenge to older siblings who are trying to concentrate on these responsibilities.”

“The most annoying thing is when [my little sister] starts crying really loudly, [which is quite distracting],” sophomore Prithvi Kinariwala, who is 11 years older than his sister, said. “However, once the [crying] is contained, everything [goes back to normal].”

Younger siblings often idolize their older brothers or sisters because in their tiny minds, life revolves around family. That is why when it is time for an older sibling to go to college, the transition can be quite difficult for both parties.

“I was very attached to [my sister], so when she went to college, I had a lot of crying fits because I was sad,” Waddell said. “She took the initiative to download a [messenger application] so that I could chat with her while she was at school.”

Many students with younger siblings try to spend as much time as possible with them because they know they will not get this opportunity once college life starts.

While many think large age gaps between siblings are a negative thing, those who have baby brothers or sisters know that they can make life so much more meaningful. One can obtain nurturing skills that can be helpful for the workforce and prepare them for future parenthood.

“[The best part about having a baby sibling] is it’s such a wonderful feeling to know that you can help another person,” Kirkendall said. “He [or she] is going to grow up looking up to you because he [or she is] everything to you and you are everything to him [or her].”