Sibling Worship


Halen and Savannah checking out ants in Pella, across from ruins of an Ottoman-era mosque.
Halen is like an Alzheimer’s patient when it comes to handing in homework. Last month, my efforts to get him to hand in the previous week’s homework became a morning ritual. Halen would get himself all ready to go, and just before he went out the door I would hold up his homework folder. I put it close to his face so he could focus on it. I let him sniff it. I invited him to touch it. I told him, “Halen, this is your homework. When the school bell rings this morning and you run to your classroom, you will remember to take this out of your backpack. You will give it to your teacher. Right?”

Halen laughed, “Stop tricking around, Mommy!”

“I’m not tricking, Halen. I really mean it. Please repeat back to me what you are going to do when you hear the school bell ring this morning.”

“Mommy, stop tricking!”

“Say it.”

Halen’s shoulders surrendered under the weight of this silliness. Only after some prodding did he finally sigh, “When the bell rings, I’m going to take the homework out of my backpack and give it to my teacher.”

“Right! I really think you’re going to do this today, Halen. I believe in you. Go do it!” 

We’d do a high-five, exchange a kiss, and then he’d be off. 

And when I picked him up from school, I’d of course find his homework folder still in his backpack.

We repeated this scene for five (5!) days straight. Finally I got wise and just started safety-pinning homework and notes directly to Halen’s clothing. He looked like a dork, but at least he didn’t have to use his memory—or rather, fail to use his memory.

Anyway, Savannah was sick last Friday, so she wanted to send her homework to school with Halen—she doesn’t like her teacher to think she’s slacking, even when she’s sick. She instructed him to just drop off her folder at the office and ask to have it taken to her Spanish teacher. 

“Don’t worry Savannah,” I offered, “I’m sure your teacher will accept your homework next Monday.” I didn’t want her to get her hopes up about Halen’s capacities.

But wouldn’t you know it, he REMEMBERED! Amazing. Just one more evidence of how much he worships his older sister.

Once I let my older brother (who also really disliked me) cut off all of my hair. I had initially questioned his judgment, but he assured me it would grow back quickly. I don’t think I ever resented him for his misinformation; I was too busy trying to find ways to impress him and make him like me. 

Did you ever accomplish any surprising feats at your older sibling’s request?