”We need to learn that across generations there is as much to learn as there is to teach’’- Gloria Steinem    

In my short 22 years, many people have had a considerable impact on the person I am today. However, out of the long list of names that come to mind, the one that stands out boldly is my little brother’s.    

He is the fifth and final addition to my parents attempt at their own Brady Bunch. Nearly a decade younger than me, our generational differences tend to have us speaking entirely different languages most days.    

I have been known to mommy him a little, a natural occurrence when you are the firstborn. Yet, as much as I try to teach him the ways of the world what is evident, is that indeed the youngest more frequently teaches the eldest and has becomes a valuable coach.    

How a 13-year-old became a coach for a game he has barely played often perplexes those he meets. His training, however, started at barely three years old, still in nappies with a dummy attached to his lips. His training came in the form of the end of a marriage and a parent in rehab for an extended period. That can advance one from player to coach in an instant. 

Out of the many lessons my little brother has taught me, the ones during the turbulent times in the past 10 years stand out the most. Resilience, grit and humour were all used by the three-year-old, and I, too, began to mirror his actions. My motto became, “If a three-year-old can get through a day like today the way he did, then what is my excuse for not handling the situation in the same way?”  

It was his forgiveness and lack of judgement, however, that had the greatest impact on me. He accepted my mom back from rehab and into his life with little apprehension or judgment. He embraced her sobriety, learning the Serenity Prayer as if it were a Barney song and celebrated every clean day as if it were a year. His eagerness to forgive and lack of judgement, in turn coached me in my process of forgiveness. Further, I have now taken these attributes with me into many situations since and it has made me a better and more sympathetic person for it. 

Our parents like to point out that among all five of their children, my little brother and I came out of this situation with the most similarities. We were both robbed of fundamental phases in our lives. As he skipped all that childhood had to offer, my teens were replaced with the responsibility, as the firstborn, of making sure my siblings were okay and well-adjusted, and that our home in the absence of its matriarch was still in working order. I too became the coach for a while.  

Both my brother and I have done our fair share of coaching. We have, even with the generational gap between us, been able to both learn from each other and teach one another. He is now the same age I was when this situation was in play. In comparison, he is way more mature, worldly, empathetic and understanding than I ever was. I now only possess those qualities mostly from learning from his example and coaching. I pray often, however, for him to be granted the joy of being his age. During those times I gladly volunteer to take over the coaching cap and whistle. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Elishevah Bome. Photo: file