"It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away." - lyrics by the BeeGees that I live by and strive to inculcate in life
This is a heavy topic because it includes painful factors like ‘younger sibling’ and ‘homework’. But for anyone who has grown beyond age 10 will understand that these are experiences that one needs to have to be better equipped in handling the Calamity™ that is the span of time from age 10 to the age you die.
Of course, there are people who are an only child - by birth or circumstance. I do not mean to be rude, but when you say you wished you had a younger sibling, I’m sure every older sibling has thought of having you walk a mile in their shoes and then be able to say those exact words with as much emotion again.
The relationship between siblings is multifaceted and delightfully chaotic, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.
So, without further ado, here are the 9 ways doing my younger sibling’s homework has been a learning experience:
1. The ability to say ‘Yes’ and accept its consequences
When faced with pouts and puppy-dog eyes and many bribes (or your parents tell you to have pity on them, and you do), most of us will probably say ‘yes’. But what we didn’t consider while initially agreeing is the development of the mindset that it is now their god-given right to keep on coming back to you with their homework.
2. Learning a concept known as ‘thinly veiled frustration’
After you have agreed to do whatever you have been manipulated into doing, you will learn why this was the specific piece of homework that was assigned to you. You can use this as free experience to deal with unsavoury situations in your college and work life.
3. Understanding barter system and the role of the middle man
Nothing in this world is free. You are doing your younger sibling a favour by having them owe you a favour while you tackle with their little problem. This is again valuable life experience for everyone involved. You are also teaching them - and yourself - that the middle man is extremely important in certain aspects (having your younger sibling use their inherent manipulation techniques to have your parent get you that thing you wanted)
4. Understanding the beauty of repetitive work
It is almost like meditation in a non-meditative way. It allows you to think about some inconveniences and problems that you are facing and try to find solutions. Furthermore, it is also excellent for creative types, like me, who have managed to write quite a few poems and blog posts while drawing biology diagrams. It is like killing two birds with one stone, except that while you were throwing that stone you didn’t know that the second bird was in its range.
5. Having the satisfaction of knowing that boring school work is a universal experience.
I think every first world human - who has had the privilege of being able to attend a decent school and thus developed the habit of complaining about said privilege - can be united in our mutual experience of having to do unreasonable things in the name of schoolwork. It is heartening to know that the emotions attached to this experience is timeless with only minor changes in details.
6. An extremely valid excuse to procrastinate with your own work
Procrastination is the universal truth for all humans. We love and hate to do it while the only reason we can provide for it is laziness. Here you are provided with a ready-made excuse about why you are not doing that assignment you have due in a week’s time - because I am doing my younger sibling’s homework which is due tomorrow.
7. It can be an unexpected method of problem-solving.
It is actually a scientific fact that the solution to a perplexing problem can be found while one is not actively trying to solve that problem. It is mostly associated with the use of the subconscious mind to solve the problems of the conscious mind, and I’m sure many of us have experienced this phenomenon.
8. It can be the source of inspiration.
While I was helping my sibling write an article about the relationship between students and future entrepreneurs, I came across quite a few research articles and posts that were very interesting. I even took notes and will most definitely implement some of them in my life. Likewise, there are many other interesting topics that I’ve found due to the homework I was coerced into doing.
9. It is an excellent bonding experience
The relationship between siblings in uniquely strange. Individuals thrown together by our parents and told to get along. Is it a wonder that we can be thick as thieves one moment and hungry for blood the very next? But on a very basic level, dissing the school system feels excellent even when both of us are doing exactly as that system dictates us to.
And that’s it for now. In a short span of time, this learning experience will no longer be available for me, because thank god they will be done with school. But that doesn’t mean that the favours bartered off during this time becomes invalid. They will be applicable for as long as either of us lives, and I’m sure there will be more learning opportunities as we both grow in life.
© 2021 Sanjana Mahanta