Competing with my sister to become the ‘IDEAL’ child
My compensations to win the silent battle
Age-wise, I and my elder sister had a gap of 1.5 years, Grade-wise it was 1 year. We went to the same school and were taught by almost the same set of teachers. Apparently we shared the same section and so her class-teacher always became my class-teacher the next year! I call my sister a ‘born genius’. She had the best handwriting in her class, she won medals in almost all competitions she took part in, and she scored A+ in almost all subjects. Teachers would describe her as the ‘ideal’ student. My mother was known in the school by my sister’s name and I got ‘special attention’ from teachers when I introduced myself as ‘her sister’. Unfortunately, this ‘special attention’ felt like a ‘special burden’ to me. I was not ‘Bad’ or ‘Weak’. I scored average marks, my handwriting was legible, I moderately participated in co-curricular activities, and I was respectful and obedient! The unfortunate part was that for the teachers I was my sister’s ‘SISTER’. Hence my handwriting was “ok, but not as good as...”; my painting for the class bulletin board was “ok, but not as good as the one hung last year!” and so on for all the other things at school!! Once, in my third grade, I had made a thermocol Christmas tree. It was my best creation and I was so satisfied and happy. I took it to school, taking utmost care so as not to damage it on my way. I waited eagerly to show it to my class teacher. She looked at it for a while, looked up at the bulletin Board and commented “This one can go in there (pointing to the small board beside the main one), and I was thinking if you could get the one that your sister had created last year that could be placed here in the centre”. Was I to be happy or sad? After all, even if my sister’s work was put up, it was from ‘my side’. With that logic in fact, two and not just one painting from my side were to go onto the board!! I was neither sad nor happy, I felt frustrated. And by now, I don’t think I need to explain my frustration further! I always yearned for the praise and approval which my sister received. Once in my 10th grade, I wrote a wonderful essay in French (a third language for us). It had taken me 5 hours to write a one page essay, but when it was completed I felt proud. Excited as I always was, after any of my creation, I gave it to my sister to read it. She was not just amazed, she had difficulty understanding the vocabulary used and had to refer to the dictionary multiple times. My excitement grew and I eagerly waited for my work to be reviewed by my teacher. The comment that I received read “Is this your own work or your sister’s?” This was a red scar on my beautiful blue ink!! How did I feel- Sad, angry, frustrated? None! I felt ‘winning a battle’.
If on reading this you are thinking that ‘these are such small things, who cares?’ I want to remind you that even a grain of rice is a feast for an ant! Don’t underestimate your child’s or your student’s needs, strengths and achievements. When you look at them as separate unique creatures, you will see the star in them!
My story of “competing with my sister to become the ‘IDEAL’ child” to be continued…..