Last night my younger brother asked me for help with a project that he was about 2 weeks behind in work. Of course it was due the next day so I automatically adopt an attitude: have no mercy for what doesn’t get finished, but give all that you have. Last night was not a burden; actually quite the opposite, I accepted it as an honor since it was the one of the few times he called on me. As siblings grow older the texture of their relationship achieves maturity. We become aware of institutionalization—imprisonment, surveillance, conversion into a cubicle critter, etc.—and try to keep our family from falling off the cliff. While we commit to assisting our siblings, their incompletion of something always inspires guilt within us. Should it be there though?
As I write this blog, pieces if my brother’s project lay around my computer incomplete. After I found sources for his research project and helped him with the structure of his writing compositions, he decided to take a ten minute nap. I knew he wouldn’t wake up from it so I advised against it, but he did as he pleased. Unable to easily go to sleep, I yelled at him to wake up three times before I dosed off. By the time he was ready to do business I was deep in my own sleep. So now I sit at this computer looking at his attempt at the final piece of the project—a PowerPoint—wishing that I would’ve answered his second call. Younger brother’s cutting it close to graduation and he’s jeopardizing a passing grade in English, especially by missing all the check points and the not having a presentation for the final project. I thought about doing the project for him and emailing it, but I don’t think he’s mature for that type of fortune.
There’s a proverb about failure that reconciles all the fears I have about my wandering little brother. Roughly it goes: don’t look at your unfruitful attempts at something as failures, but as many found ways to solve a problem. Although my brother may not get the point about taking school seriously and procrastination now, he will get sooner or later; he’s just a couple methods away of getting the right answer. And for the role of the older sibling, the duties remain the same—do what you can, but with as much intensity as you treat yourself. Even if your younger sibling doesn’t ultimately complete the task at hand they at least learn new skills from what you show them. Hell, you become a superhero for something as dorky as research skills, or for having the ability to write in a business tone. So don’t feel guilty, your sibling will have another opportunity to prove the world wrong and your sibling will call you first if assistance is needed.