I’m proud of my little sister. She has become a massive part of my family this year. From barely knowing her older brother to being totally immersed in the weirdness that is my whanau.
Younger siblings are funny ones. They resist and they push back both in words and with shotgunning the front seat. Us older sibling counterparts are left wondering “how the heck did I get told off for that, all I did was change the TV channel?”
Since I was a little baby I was always the youngest in my family. Growing up in the foster care of my aunty, then my only fully biological little sister was born. My aunt made sure to keep us both in contact every few years or so. A strange relationship for any person to have with their sibling.
There were years between catch ups. So long that it became convenient for me to feel comfortable in my own family believing I was the youngest one. My step parents had two children, both of whom were much older than me. They babied me all the way through my childhood years. I was a loved and spoilt youngster who enjoyed running around sprinklers in the nude.
But there was a realism I didn’t know back then. A truth that underpinned my life that I wasn’t aware of. I had a younger sister who didn’t live with me and I didn’t know why? Our biological parents were not fit to be parents. They weren’t ready to take on the guardianship of two young tamariki. They were not the kaitiaki we needed. Their decisions were why my sister and I were taken into the care system.
In 2016 I made a phone call to Child Youth and Family to find out where my sister was. It took a number of weeks to get in contact with her social worker but eventually, I made it through. After making disparate connections to my sister’s Foster Carer, I learnt that she was living on a farm in the middle of the North Island. It brought me huge comfort knowing she was living in a safe and understanding home.
Towards Christmas, my sister finally came and spent a holiday with our family and after numerous discussions, the decision was made that she would finally come and live with us permanently and would continue studying in our community.
It’s been almost a year since the day she came to live with us. That day was beautiful. To hear my parents coming together to support my younger sister to come and be apart of our family. That there were no judgements to be made about her past but instead that they would make that commitment out of love and understanding.
It’s pretty heavy stuff to hold in your heart. That pure admiration for the strength and coordination of not-perfect parents making the ultimate decision to take on a life for now and forever… something not many people will probably ever do…
My little sister is thriving. For sure she has days of tantrums and arguments, fighting over the TV remote but in all seriousness, she is thriving the way a rose flower blooms its petals as the radiation dances in the sunlight.
It’s weird that she has the same face as me. No, not just in the physical sense but she thinks in ways that I do. The thing I love about her so much is the way she tests the waters. She’s not afraid to challenge me or dad and is happy to say things how they are.
Her thoughts and feelings resonate to the way I felt growing up at 16 years old. Those really grouchy afternoons coming home after school tired and hungry and being confronted by an equally grouchy dad who loves to delegate chores and micromanage your progress… Oh yes… Memory lane…
But she surprises me in so many ways I never even thought of. Always being able to find something interesting to do and hardly ever getting bored. Excelling in her sports and has far better hand-eye coordination than I ever will. Already she is a better driver than I am, and she has a tremendous capacity to love others too.
One of those people she loves deeply is my older sister. My relationship with my older sister when I was younger was very strong. She would drop me off and pick me up from school, those sisterly roles. She would encourage me to do as I wanted and not get too bogged down in doing what pleased my parents.
My older sister is very independent, or co-dependent. Newly married the bro Paul. Together they live in their new home with a cute little puppy named Brick. A pretty awesome little whanau.
Joey spent the longer part of ten years finding her soulmate. She shifted cities, and countries to be with Paul. Built an entire family overseas before coming back home. At this time was some of the most progressive developmental periods of my whole life as a teenager.
We were very close when I was younger and we are still close now. But like all compromises lost connections are just another part of life. We all have to do what is best for us and we all need to love somebody. I’m just glad that our sister decided to move back home so that we can spend a whole heap of time together bow and into the future.
The greatest part about having my little sister come into my life was to hear that the connection between my older sister and younger sister was so strong. Neither of them knew each other very well beforehand but now it’s like they have known each other forever. I imagine it has something to do with my older sister continuing the familiarity of our relationship with my younger sister…
Both of my amazing sisters have taught me to put down my personality a bit. With older siblings, there’s always a card that can be played and it’s called the unsourced wisdom card. A lesson to love that no matter how big you may think you are, or how right you may believe to be, there’s no point arguing with your elders on some things.
Conversely with younger siblings, learning how to play the wisdom can be a great way to help mentor them. How to teach my younger sister the right life skills. It’s also taught me that being the older one has perks. I’ve learnt how to delegate responsibilities like asking her to do the dishes or overruling her call to shotgun the front seat in the car or which channel is to be played on the TV.
The most powerful thing about learning to love and understand my siblings had been learning how to have people skills. To adapt to new personalities. Whether big or small things for either my younger or older sister.
To learn how to ask for her to turn down shit music in the car. How to ask where the pots go after going over for dinner at my older sisters place. Laughing with her at the latest viral video on Youtube. Trying to explain to her what my new job is all about. The difference is that I have a deeper invested interest in my sisters because I love them and it shapes the person I have become the same way it shapes other families.
Having these relationships builds people skills too in a way that allows for personal development. it forces you to grow and adapt to the new landscapes, the new personalities. When my little sister challenges my request to change the channel it is a micro level argument of power dynamics and a clashing of minds.
In that space, somebody will have to make a compromise, or both, The resistance promotes a creative response, something witty to say that lightens the mood, or conversely something controversial to stamp down some authority. This is politics played out on a really small scale.
The relationships we develop with our family is the practice ground for real-world politics, whether it’s in our family, with our friends or out in our communities. I’m sure most families have their occasional domestic every now and again. One uncle disagreeing with another uncle business…
We all hear the Trump stories on a macro scale too. The compelling ridiculousness of an orange-faced man banning people from entering his country. Or a Zimbabwean President refusing to step down from power. These are examples of poorly executed community focused politics played out on a massive scale.
Power hungry individuals willing to bet it all on losing their credibility in order to maintain their status, their wealth. However, something important to remember is that sometimes it’s better to just listen instead of trying to be right all the time… Another lesson I’m still actually grappling with… Without learning the lessons of these giants builds a personality that is in many ways a deployable characteristic. It makes you replaceable because anyone can be a dick. It takes a special person who understands how people are to create roles for themselves that are indispensable.
Which.brings me to my last point that the most powerful thing to come out of relationships is love and understanding. This stuff is like Google Maps when it comes to navigating the ever-changing world of people skills and communicating. It gives us a scope on collaborating with our sisters instead of competing with them. Like taking the dog for a walk or protecting one another from hazards on the road when out driving.
A healthy sense of love and understanding grows our personalities when we know we are supported by each other. We build our confidence and learn the thin line to arrogance. Like making mistakes playing the piano, even if we are good, there are still insecurities if we fumble and can’t finish playing the song. So we stay humble to the end.
At a deeper level, showing love and understanding for your family and friends will help you become more empathetic. In that space, you can take wisdom into any situation. Whether it’s a family argument or a relationship meltdown. Having empathy for a situation shows that you care about other people, which opens pathways in places that don’t exist for people who don’t care or have the right people skills.
Having good people skills and a solid understanding of empathy towards others backed up by a lifestyle full of love and understanding ultimately makes you more employable. How often do you see in a job description phrases like: “must have good people skills” or listening skills, or is a good team player, “must be proficient at communicating.”
These are essential skills for any employment role even beyond getting a job or creating partnerships with other organisations. It builds friends with people, invites you to become apart of the larger family, our communities.
In my opinion, all this stuff can be learnt through appreciating every relationship you have. For me, those relationships include loving my sisters. (And our dog Boxer…)
But at the end of the day, the most powerful use of love and understanding is not to just make yourself more employable for others but to also help you love who you are too, and that skill cannot be overlooked.
Thanks for checking in!