Making Up For Lost Time

One of my friends jokingly called me a deadbeat brother a few weeks ago. Let me explain…

I was 11 years old when my little brother was born. As his older brother, I had a hand in raising him. I changed his diapers. Saw him learn to walk. Shared a bunk bed with him. Taught him how to drive. He was my Mini Me. And then, I went off to college. I was loving being away from the nest. Not in that Girls Gone Wild sort of way, but in a “it’s refreshing to meet so many new women people” sort of way. I was only about 45 minutes from home, but I didn’t go back too often. At this point, my brother was starting first grade and I was no longer a constant presence in his life. I spent every year after that at college or an out-of-state internship so I didn’t see him much. Phone calls checking up on him were rare. I essentially had an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Hell, I grew up without an older brother to guide me through parts of my life and I turned out more than okay so I thought he wouldn’t need one either.

I started to take notice of how much I was neglecting him once his grades were consistently below average. He was always a well-behaved kid, but he started having trouble in his classes. Whenever I asked, he was never sure what was causing his grades to slip so far. I’d give him general advice and suggestions on how to improve his study habits, but he kept bringing home the same results. My parents are old and tired at this point and can’t help him with his homework even if they tried. Grounding him for bad grades is the only weapon in their arsenal and they’re not even consistent with that. Without being there to monitor his learning habits, I couldn’t truly know what he was doing wrong nor enforce a study regimen.

After another report card with failing grades, my dad had the crazy idea that my brother should come and stay with me in Pittsburgh. If I couldn’t come to him, then he would come to me. I wasn’t a fan of the idea at first. I have a busy schedule as is. Add having to put together an itinerary for a 14-year-old and you can see why I was hesitant to agree to it. But I knew that something needed to be done. This was a chance for me to make up for lost time. Whatever the issue is with my brother, it isn’t going to be solved by staying home where he’d spend his days playing PS3 and watching Netflix. He is going to be beginning the ninth grade at the end of the summer and won’t last long if his grades continue to look like they do. The least I can do is try. So that’s what I’m doing.

My brother is going to be my temporary roommate for the next month. I’ll have him working on his study habits, as well as working on other areas that he’s lacking in. Hopefully, by the end of it all, he will be a better scholar and more well-rounded man. To be honest, I’m curious as to how this whole experience will change me as well. To now have a roommate, let alone one whose well-being I’m responsible for, is a big change to my normal routine. I’m excited though.

-TDA

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13 thoughts on “Making Up For Lost Time

  1. you know its eerily similar to how the relationship is with my youngest brother. i was 9 and a half when he was born. before i went off to college he used to tell me how he was gonna go to college too. right after i crossed my frat he would say that he was gonna pledge the same frat. then i became absentee. i noticed without my lack of guidance and someone for him to look up to his grades started slipping. now i’m not saying that its all my fault (neither is it your fault) because they are their own individuals. glad to see that you’re attempting to make up for lost time tho.

  2. As the youngest brother I’ll give you props, TDA. He may just pick up positive habits while living with you. He may get interested in super science. You can’t shoulder all of the weight of not being there either. Tunde is correct by saying there has to be some individual action. Do watch you must and your brother will fall in line.

    • Growing up without any brotherly guidance myself and busting through middle and high school made me less concerned about always being there for my brother, but I know it’s not all my fault. He’s got the intelligence, I know that for sure. His habits are need improvement.

  3. I think perspective is key here for your brother. He needs to see that there is more to life than PS3 and pre-teen anxiety. I say take him around with you to school and show him what he has to look forward to with college. That might be a great motivation for him to do better (aside from trying to be just like you.)

  4. Older siblings play such a huge role in parenting! There is a five year age gap between my younger brother and me. By the time I was in college (but still living in the same city) he was still in middle school. He was in his junior year of HS when my older sis and I moved to different states and we started to notice changes — his grades slipping, the bad influence from some of the people he was hanging around. Trying to give him advice from hundreds of miles away was ineffective and my parents were like yours — getting old and tired — but they didn’t send him to either one of us. He stayed their made a mess of his last semesters of high school and graduated with rejection letters from the 2 colleges he applied to…
    I’m rambling but watching my brother make poor decisions was one of the most stressful part of me moving away from home. Thankfully he’s completely switched it up and is more open to discussing his life plans with me (when I remember not to be too hard on him and to be honest about my own challenges in life, he’s def more open).
    All the best to you and your brother. I think it could be an exciting month!

  5. You’re a pretty awesome big brother. I had a similar experience with my little brother (who is 3.5 years younger than me) and I can see how some of our experiences mirror. Of course, I didn’t have as much of a heavy hand raising him as you did with your little brother, but somehow I always felt like my mother’s surrogate. When I went off to college for 6 years and came back home to live, it was a huge readjustment process. It’s crazy how that happens. And now, seeing him as a man instead of a little boy is quite the challenge, but I do believe that God has me at home under the same roof with him again to rejuvenate our relationship. Distance can be a killer for sure. But I think it’s so cool you’re taking such a hands-on approach, instead of this, “I did it, why can’t you?” sentiment that could be so easy for you to say. Hopefully this experience will change the both of you for the better. Best of luck! I hope you keep us updated on what happens.

  6. OMG that book cover!!! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    K, now I got the cutesy part of the way I can thug it up and read this post.

    Wait… now I feel even MORE cutesy. -_-

    Awwwww, this is soooooooooooo sweet. And yes, while at face value you'll teach him so many things, his presence will teach you a lot of things as well. This will be good for both of you. Looking forward to the updates!

    • “And yes, while at face value you’ll teach him so many things, his presence will teach you a lot of things as well.”

      Yup. At the very least, I’m getting a taste of what it’s like to be a single parent lol.

  7. I definitely can relate. I am 7 years older than my brother and 12 years older than my sister. I often ask myself, as a 25 year old working woman/ grad student how I can I relate to them? but none the less establishing a great relationship with them is truly important to me and I understand that I can have a positive influence on their lives. It’s good that you are “making up for lost time” better late than never….you don’t want it to bite you in the butt later and they come out saying “you were never there for me!”…that would be heart wrenching for me. Have fun with your new roommate and God Bless!

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