Introducing A Very Special 16-Year-Old
Tuesday, July 23, 2013Tweet
Today is an important day in my family -- it's my dad's and my sister's birthday! Yep, my sister was born just after midnight on my dad's birthday.
With apologies to my dad, I want to take a post to talk about my sister on this very special occasion of her 16th birthday.
As you might have gathered, my sister is more than a decade younger than me. And you guys, she is awesome. As in, I am in awe of her and the maturity and grace with which she conducts her life.
About a year ago she gave the go-ahead to my parents to move from Chicago to be with my mom's family in Seattle, even though this meant my sister would have to start at a brand-new high school for her junior year. They were going to wait until she graduated, but she said she was happy to move the following summer. And so last month, they did.
When I graduated high school, I was terrified of going to college and having to make new friends for the first time since middle school. (Not that I didn't get some new friends in high school, but they were typically made by other people first and then absorbed into our giant friend-blob.) The only reason I was able to do it was because I knew all my friends were also graduating and leaving for different parts of the country.
My sister? Makes new friends easily. It's not like she was happy to cut and run because she was lonely and sad where she was. She was just mature enough to know that she'd be able to make new friends at her new school. And to know that her old friendships would survive on a steady diet of texting, Facebook, and Instagram as long as they put the effort into it.
Coming as she did almost a decade after both me and my brother, my sister has had to put up with constant comparisons her entire life. As she grew up, there was the question hanging over her of whether she'd turn out to be a "brain" like me or a star athlete like my brother. The answer? Neither. Despite the pressure on her, she forged her own path to be a completely awesome person in her own right with a flair for creativity, getting into videography, doing crafts, and most recently performing in a school show with her best friend a short piece that they wrote together about the pressures put on teenage girls.
Even though my sister managed to avoid following in my footsteps (I'll admit I joined my mom for a bit in pushing her to try speech team, which was possibly the best part of my high school experience, but she resisted), she apparently did manage to pick up some lessons from me. I remember the time she told me with a note of exasperation that she wasn't interested in dating anyone because "Dating in middle school is a stupid idea," which was apparently something she'd learned from my mishaps. Even if someone had shared cautionary tales with me at that age, I doubt I would have had the wisdom to listen.
At my cousin's wedding last fall, another cousin asked my sister about her future hopes and dreams for marriage. My sister said she had no plans to get married. She then made it clear that while she's not opposed to getting married, finding a partner is by no means a necessary part of her life plan. Even though I went through a "I want to be single forever" phase (that ended quickly upon meeting Mike), it was more reactionary: "I'm tired of chasing guys and am better off on my own!" My sister, at 15, had a much calmer and more reasonable view of her life: Having a partner is unnecessary for me to be happy in life. She was clear that she did want to have kids someday, and while I can't say I'm a cheerleader for my sister becoming a single mother (especially anytime soon!), I admire that she recognized that none of her life goals, including being a mother, should be dependent on finding a life partner.
When Mike and I got married, everyone asked if my sister (who turned 12 a week before the wedding) was going to be a junior bridesmaid. I told them no, she was going to be a bridesmaid. "Junior" bridesmaid implies someone who needs hand-holding and doesn't get to participate in most of the regular bridal party activities. My sister did everything my other bridesmaids did -- came to my bachelorette party (an admittedly tame one involving a photo shoot, Italian dinner, and a movie), walked down the aisle with a groomsman, rode in the limo with the other attendants, participated in group pictures before the reception, and sat at the head table. And let me tell you -- that girl can hold her own. I had my matron of honor keeping an eye on her, but she was fine, just rolled with the punches and did what everyone else did.
My sister and I are very different people, and I think she probably finds me old and boring most of the time, especially compared to my energetic and hilarious husband. However, I'm happy that we share some interests. She became an enthusiastic reader later in life than I did, but now we are able to trade book recommendations and discuss books we've both read. Lending her The Fault in Our Stars meant her introduction to John Green books and subsequently to all of Nerdfighteria. That led her to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and we watched one of the last episodes together, sharing her earbuds, when she was visiting on her spring break. We both love board games, and most recently she developed an obsession with Settlers of Catan to rival mine and Mike's. I love that we are able to have interests that span our age gap.
Thanks for letting me take some time to brag on my sister. I'm incredibly proud of the person she's become and feel very blessed to have her as my sister. Happy 16th birthday, little sis!