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The Definition of Sibling

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How do you define sibling? The New Oxford American Dictionary defines it as “each of two or more children or offspring having one or both parents in common.” But that doesn’t even begin to scrape the surface off of what a sibling really is. All that covers is the biological bit of it, which really isn’t much at all.

In most cases your sibling is more similar to you than anyone in the world - whether or not we like to admit it. Siblings share so many things. You’ve got genetics, firstly. Then there’s environment. As for influence and experience, well, siblings don’t share all of it but they certainly share some of it. Genetics, environment, influence and experience: pretty much what makes up a person’s “soul.”

So what are such similar people bound to do? Argue, yes. If ‘opposites attract,’ then similars clash. And it makes sense. Two stubborn people are going to argue; two know-it-alls are going to argue; two bossy people are going to argue; etc. And these extremely similar people are also bound to have their moments where they’re the best of friends, because they can understand each other so well. Either way, siblings are bound to interact. They have to; they live in the same house. And why wouldn’t they want to? Well, that’s what I thought.

***

When I was younger, I often wanted to do what my brother was doing. If he was going outside to explore the woods that encircle our house, I wanted to explore, too. If he was listening to music, I wanted to listen to that same music. If he was playing with Lincoln Logs, well, I wanted to too.

On my 4th birthday I opened a crudely wrapped gift to find my brother’s toy model taxi, and on his I gave him a drawing. On long car rides we would share the earphones of my dad’s iPod Shuffle so we wouldn’t have to listen to the oldies on the radio (chosen by my mom). I would annoy him when he wanted to be alone, and he would pick on me at times.

Overall, we were completely average siblings. I didn’t expect that to ever change. I took the times of friendship for granted. To be honest, I never thought of it. I never thought, will he change? Will I change? I was too young to think ahead about a thing like that. Unfortunately, even when we aren’t able to foresee it, life moves on.

So I was forced to learn answers to the questions I never asked. And the answers that life threw at me were yes and yes. We both changed. He became a teenager too focused on anything but his sister. I became, well, I’m not sure what I became - I wasn’t a teenager by the time it ‘happened’ but somewhere along the way we stopped talking to each other, and now it’s like I don’t have a sibling.

I won’t go into how awkward it is to go around your daily life at home while completely avoiding one of the people in it. That’s not the point. I wasn’t immediately aware of the change, but it didn’t take long. I wasn’t immediately upset by it, either. I’ve still never been all that saddened by the fact though it’s been years. Slightly nostalgic would be a better term.

I wonder how my brother feels about it. Did he notice? Does he care? I sometimes doubt that he does. But then, people always say that one day we’ll be ‘friends’ again, one day, maybe when we’re both adults. This year he goes to college, so that day isn’t anytime soon.

For a while I blamed myself for it; I must’ve been too annoying, basically. But then I realized, I was a little kid. That’s what little kids do! And he’d dealt with it for years, anyway. It wasn’t me that caused this, it was the fact that people change. People change, so you should never take anything - or anyone - for granted.

***

When I was born, my sibling, at age four, wanted to name me Blueberry. Thankfully, my parents had already picked out my name. But my older brother also was determined to teach me to walk and talk, as soon as he could.

And that is what, to me, defines sibling. I just have to hope that that definition can’t change forever.




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