Somehow we’re squeezing 18 people into our apartment for Thanksgiving this year, a year when too many people are worrying about fraught post-election conversations. My relatives, who luckily are all cut from the same political cloth, range in age from my mother, aged 92, to my 32-year-old nephew (my 17-month-old granddaughter’s political leanings are still unfolding.)
I love them all, but in a way the one I know best is the middle-aged man across the table whose blue eyes look just like mine: my younger brother Paul.
So if your kid sister is the queen bee in any social gathering, you might get labeled “the quiet one” even if you’re not especially quiet, just quiet in comparison. And if you’re a bright child who always gets good grades, you might not get much credit for that if your big brother is a brilliant child with straight A’s. There’s only room for one “smart one” per family — you’ll have to come up with something else. (I was smart, but Paul was smarter; I ended up being the “good one.”)
The very presence of siblings in the household can be an education. When a new baby is born, writes psychologist Victor Cicirelli in the 1995 book Sibling Relationships Across the Life Span, “the older sibling gains in social skills in interacting with the younger” and “the younger sibling gains cognitively by imitating the older.”
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