Unexpected Teachers

Xiyu - Manlius, New York
Entered on December 11, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

As a teenager, I have already had dozens of teachers, but one of them stood out from the rest. He didn’t teach me silly facts, but life lessons. Even if I wished he didn’t exist, my little brother has been, and always will be, my greatest teacher.

As the younger sibling, he taught me patience. A lot of patience. When my parents present me with the task of teaching my younger brother to ride a bike, or help him with his Chinese homework, I know I’m in for a long ride. But through all the hair pulling, threats of tattling to mom and dad, or even bribing him with candy, I’ve learned to be patient with him. I can’t rush through things. Finishing the job in the least amount of time possible might have seemed like a great idea at the time, but trust me, it’s not. Waiting for him to understand things the first time might take a little extra work, but it’s worth the trouble.

Also, I have also learned responsibility, for both my actions and his. I watch what I do because I am always a role model for him. No matter what the habit, good or bad, he learned it from me. When he holds his chopsticks wrong, or hasn’t done his homework, the blame slithers its way onto my lap. It’s not my fault my brother doesn’t have the ability to correctly hold two pieces of bamboo without dropping every piece of food. And neither is the fact that it is almost 9 pm, and his homework isn’t done. However, I take everything with a grain of rice and try to be the responsible one.

The best lesson I have learned yet is taking a step back from wild high school life, and just taking a break. When I’m with him, I forget about all my teenage worries and just have fun. No matter what the activity – making soda popsicles, jumping on the trampoline, or watching Kung Fu Panda – it lets me take a much needed break my marathon swim towards my goals. I’ve found that distracting myself from looming tests, meetings, and auditions, with a good old round of “Let-Your-Brother-Win-But-Don’t-Make-It-Too-Obvious” Ping Pong, might just keep me floating one more day.

Unlike the quadratic formula jingle I learned to “Pop Goes the Weasel,” and has constantly been stuck in my head, appreciation will wash over me when these rare happy thoughts pop into my head. No matter how annoying or immature, my brother has the ability to teach me. And I, being a faithful student, will continue to learn.