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