Role models can come in all shapes and sizes. For some, they are movie stars; for others, they are athletes. They can be historical figures, someone old and wise, or even a youngster living right here in Beijing. For me, my role model was my brother.
My friends used to always envy the fact that I had an older brother. Little did they know what a nuisance it was to me. He was always bossing me around, telling me what to do, tricking me out of my allowance, not letting me play video games “just because.” Or, worse yet, kidnapping Wrinkles, my favorite stuffed dog, and torturing her before my very eyes.
I tolerated him anyway, though, mostly because I was told to, but also because he was bigger than me (no matter how much milk I drank, I could never outgrow him). I endured my mother giving us the same haircut. I accepted his old clothes. I learned to time my Nintendo sessions between his karate lessons. And I acquired an affinity for Star Trek: The Next Generation, despite, at the time, my silent rebellion against his decree over the remote.
I’m sure I was equally the nuisance in his eyes, with my constant tattling and tendency to tag along. I was always playing with his toys and accidentally breaking them. I would demand to be allowed into the game of Hide-and-Seek, even though I was good at neither hiding nor seeking. When he started taking piano lessons, I quickly followed. After he joined the swim team, I did as well. I memorized my multiplication tables by imitating him, the result of some annoying round of copycat, or so I’ve been told.
In retrospect, I can now see how maybe having a big brother may not perhaps have been that bad of a thing, and in spite of all the torment I was forced to endure – as his default noogie victim, his makeshift chair, or as the result of the variety of other torments big brothers enjoy putting younger siblings through – my brother was also one of the most profound and influential teachers: More than just showing me how to climb trees and shoot rubber bands, I also learned from him self-respect, pride, and the depths of loyalty. These are things that you don’t necessarily learn in the classroom and can’t really be measured by taking a test, but they are life lessons that once learned are never forgotten.
So, brother, this issue of tbjkids goes out to you: my source of inspiration, my dedicated supporter, and my relentless teacher.