I find it hard to understand when people complain about their siblings and how much they hate them. It seems ill-advised to be on bad terms with someone who is essentially a permanent roommate for the first seventeen or so years of your life—which doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Sharing a room with my little sister has taught me how to compromise in difficult living situations. It has also taught me the subtle art of passive-aggression (“Where’s my new sweater?” “I don’t know. Maybe it fell in the toilet?”). These valuable skills have served me well thus far in college.
However, unlike in college, you and your siblings aren’t matched up from questionnaires, and you can’t request a room change in a cramped Manhattan apartment because your sister plays the Pixies at an ungodly volume day and night.
If you’re lucky or spoiled, you won’t have to share a room with a sibling, but even if you don’t, she’ll still be there every morning, giving you dirty looks and shooting Cap’n Crunch at you across the breakfast table. It’s best to make peace with her as early as possible. I suggest you find some common ground. Show a little interest in her hobbies, spend a little time getting to know her, and you will be amply rewarded one day in the future when she is a wealthy accountant and you are out trying to get a job with your degree in Medieval Poetry.
My only-child friends often ask me what it was like to grow up with a little sister. I always mumble something inane about how it must have been nice growing up without one. Actually, I’m surprised at the number of friends I have who are only-children. I think I’ve always been drawn to them, especially when I was little. Only-children were the bossy, demanding, dynamic kids whom I followed blindly everywhere even though they always made me take the broken swing and be the dog when we played Family. I don’t believe that children grow up the same with or without siblings. Not being able to get into the bathroom nine out of ten weekday mornings because your little sister locks herself in to blow-dry her hair for forty-five minutes even though she’s dressed and can damn well move over and let you in to brush your teeth for ten seconds, has an enormous effect on the developing psyche of a young individual.
Then there’s the fun of getting to see all the good genes your parents had to offer turn up in your sibling. She got the straight teeth, the thick hair, and the perfect eyesight. I got the asthma and the glasses at ten. I tell you, it isn’t fair.
The best part about having a sibling is knowing that someone else out there shares my background. Although we haven’t had the same experiences outside of the family, when it comes to life at home, my sister and I are on the same page. It’s validating to know that I’m not the only one who thinks my family is crazy. There’s safety in numbers.