By Kathleen, #7

“You’re homeschooled? Jeez, that must suck!”

I blinked at the girl, taken aback. “No… not really. Actually, it’s pretty great.”

I was at one of my brother’s soccer games. Having little interest in anything to do with sports, I mostly played on the jungle-gym next to the field and had struck up a conversation with another soccer-sibling.

She appeared unconvinced by my statement but didn’t push it. A few minutes later, the subject of my eight siblings came up.

“Eight brothers and sisters? That sucks!”

I was starting to notice a pattern and suspect that we might not remain friends.

“Actually, I love them.”

Why is this so unheard of among my fellow tweens and adolescents? When I mention my rather large web of siblings (I consider them ready-made best friends, but that seems to be just me), the reactions from my peers usually range from surprise to sympathy.

I encountered the girl again at another soccer game; this time I had my brother, two years my senior, with me. The three of us talked and played, getting along fairly well. However, towards the end of the afternoon, as my brother sprinted ahead of us, the girl said conspiratorially, “Brothers are so dumb, right?”

To this day, I still don’t know whether she meant to imply that my brother was dumb or that the whole idea of brothers was dumb. Either way, I bristled.

“Actually, he’s on a high school math team,” I said. “And he’s in seventh grade.”

I got the impressed surprise that I had wanted but still went home feeling upset. My eleven-year-old mind was beginning to comprehend that most other kids didn’t like their brothers and sisters. Did this mean I was weird?

I know now that it only meant I had been raised in a loving environment, where disrespect was not an option. We didn’t realize that it was ‘weird’ to enjoy each other’s company. Yes, we disagree and bicker, but we’re not in a constant state of grudge-holding or irritated glares. We support each other. From birthday phone calls to break-ups, we’re always there for each other.

I’ve watched other kids my age interact with their siblings, and it’s often clear that respect for each other was not something emphasized at home. Of course, they love each other, but it’s ‘not cool’ to show it. Most react angrily when a younger brother even enters their bedroom. At my house, closed doors aren’t an option, either. We shared bedrooms, and we often talked and played in each other’s rooms as well.

I’ve also seen brothers and sisters who make it clear that they don’t want to be seen with their younger siblings at school. At my older siblings’ high school, whenever I happened to be there during the day, my brother (the same one who was on the high school math team in seventh grade) would always try to sneak up behind me with a hug and never ignored me in the halls.

At home, we play and laugh and learn together, as a family. It most certainly does not suck.

Tweet: We play and laugh and learn together, as a family.

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