My fingers crept along, slowly following the pattern–wrapping the yarn, twisting, poking, prodding. My sister’s fingers flew. “You are still there?” she would say, teasingly, every few minutes. By the time I had finished the first row, she was at the fifth, by the time I was at the fifth, she was at the fifteenth. How embarrassing. What was I doing letting my younger sister tell me what to do, act like she is better than me?! And yet, here she was. Carefully guiding me, experimenting, correcting, laughing with me, at me. Who was I to pretend that I wasn’t having fun or that she wasn’t doing a perfect job?
There is usually a bizarre discomfort that older siblings have when their younger sibling–or any younger person–starts teaching them something. I feel this discomfort sometimes and try my best to fight it. My sister, Zoe, and I have a wonderful relationship. We homeschooled together for 6 years and my parents mostly decided to pull me out of school so that we could spend more time together, resulting in a close relationship between us. However, children grow up these days with a strong distinction between ages. When we start school, we are separated by age into grades, almost never crossing in between. We are led to believe that older kids learn more complicated stuff, so they must clearly be more advanced, and therefore do not need the help of younger kids.
In the homeschooling world, ages interlap often. My close friend group for most of my homeschooling time was made up of kids both four years older and younger than me. We were a group of varying ages, personalities, and experiences. The differences in our ages didn’t separate us, instead it enriched our friendships. Now that I am in school, I can feel myself slipping back into the mindset that I should not hang out with kids that are a different age than me and it impacts my opportunities for friendships at school and at home. When I push myself to break the barrier of age, the different stages that the kids I meet are in and the interests that come with them push me to think harder and be more compassionate, resulting in my greater happiness.
When I think of Zoe as an equal, someone who I can learn from and grow with, I find myself growing in ways that I wouldn’t normally. Our personalities and interests overlap and twist together, like knitting, making something special.
I finished my sock a couple of weeks ago. It is a little crooked in some places, has holes in others, and is in no way compared to Zoe’s pairs of socks, but it carries the air of a new skill. It has reminded me that I am not stuck to people only my age, but am able to learn from everyone.
This summer, reach out to someone younger than you and let yourself learn from them. Whether it be your younger sibling or someone else that you know, try to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Happy learning!