What It’s Like Watching Your Younger Sibling Grow Up

Photo provided by Anna Tselevich

Photo provided by Anna Tselevich

Ten years ago I was headed to my first day of third grade in my light up shoes and my snazzy rolly backpack.  My parents had wrestled my younger sister into her Hello Kitty backpack and pigtails, clasped our hands together, and asked me to walk her down the hall to the kindergarten room before I headed to my own class.  Of course, the moment we left the safety of our parents’ arms, she started crying—and not just a few sweet little tears.  No, it was loud, messy, screamy crying.  She cried the whole way down the hall.  I couldn’t really blame her as she was only five, but eight year old me was embarrassed anyway.



This memory has been floating around my brain for the past month, as in September, my younger sister started her freshman year of high school the same day I started my senior year. She was standing in the doorway with her Kipling lunchbag and her Converse on—a real teenager, you might say—and wow.  Weird.  It felt like a few moments ago she couldn’t even read and I was choosing picture books to read aloud with her.  Just a second ago we were chubby babies, cross legged on our bunk bed, pretending our teddy bears were getting married.  The little girl who cried on her first day of kindergarten was out the door, on her first day of high school, before I was.  How times change.


Of course, lots of things don’t change.  My sister pulls off this strange paradox of “extremely shy, social butterfly” with everyone we meet, the same way she always has.  She still likes dressing up, although now it’s with eyeshadow and a curling iron instead of princess costumes; and she still has a good heart, which is one of the most important things she can hold onto; but I watched my sister go from large infant to tiny lady in the span of a decade, and that means lots of change.  One big example is her music taste, which has improved greatly, and our relationship is better now than ever before.  She’s gotten taller and more independent.  She is afraid of fewer things. And she’s closer than ever to becoming a grown up.


There’s this nostalgic pride that comes with watching a younger sibling achieve goals and do things for the first time, and it’s usually accompanied by a pleasant sense of fond superiority (because no matter what, the older sibling will always be older, wiser, and more experienced). But, like with many siblings, my sister was my first roommate, my first best friend, my first worst enemy, and my first partner in crime.  I’m excited to see her use her potential to get anywhere and everywhere she wants to go.