My brother has recently hit the ripe old age of 12. So, I thought this would be a good time to take stock in the teachings of this small figure of wisdom. Here are 12 things my brother has taught me, one lesson for every year of his life so far.
1. Having fun is more important than school
The tedious and constant stream of “why” questions younger siblings ask you are a useful reminder to question everything. Why are you doing it if you don’t like it? But why? Don’t stop asking yourself why. Never believe “that’s just the way it is.”
2. Getting along with your family is important
They love you more than 99.999999% of the world. They have stuck with you through all of your bad haircuts and slammed doors. Give them some credit.
3. Listen to music you like without shame
Whether it’s The Police, Boney M, Pharrell Williams or Beethoven. You are allowed to like them all.
4. Boys can be as self-conscious as girls
The type of pressure boys are under is different from that of girls, and when I first discovered the concept of feminism I was blinded by my discovery of the discrimination women are subjected to. I failed to notice that feminism is not purely a female problem. I’m glad my brother was able to talk to me about his worries about not being “muscular” or “sporty” or “masculine” enough and his embarrassment at being an arty boy otherwise I might still be as misinformed.
5. Wear Less Black
Wear some color, look happy. “But I’m not like you I don’t wear stupid monkey t-shirts,” I said to him. His reply: “I’m just saying black looks better when you don’t wear it all the time.” Smart kid.
6. To get a tan you have to go outside
Stop complaining about not having a tan, if you want a tan go outside instead of reading indoors and scrolling through Tumblr. But wear sunscreen. . . and don’t use fake tan because you’ll look weird.
7. If you buy the food you are allowed to eat more of it
Brothers are the best for not sharing. They should give awards for their ability not to share. I consider myself lucky. On the odd occasion my brother gives me a ration of cookie or ice cream. He always has at least twice as much as me. “I bought it, if you want more go buy some yourself,” he says. Translation: Don’t let people walk over you or your cookies. Life lesson.
8. I’m a hypocrite
Lead by example. You can’t tell some-one to not care what other people think if you can’t follow your own advice.
9. I can’t sing
The constant hammering and shouting through the wall was a good indication that I should never attempt to enter any televised singing competition.
10. If you leave something out for all to see, it will be read
Do not leave your journal, a letter, a text, receipts, bills, notebooks, textbooks, homework, stories, poems, songs anywhere exposed. They will pick it up and they will read it and they will tell people what they saw.
11. No-one notices your flaws as much as you do
My brother didn’t notice when I got bangs and dyed my hair blonde. That is how little other people care about how you look.
12. Get a proper hobby
Eating doesn’t count. My brother likes magic tricks, and drawing, and making movies and I hope for the worlds sake he keeps it up because he will make brilliant things.
Robyn is a coffee obsessed Beyonce fan with a love for writing and an addiction to buying books she probably won’t read. You can find her on twitter @RobynSGuthrie and Tumblr www.frankiesimone.tumblr.com