Growing down: Learning from the young


“No! You have to carry the one over to the tens column! How many times do I have to tell you this?”

I remember teaching my younger brother how to add two-digit numbers together like it was just yesterday. After about a half hour of unavailing work, annoyance and anger filled my mind as I stomped out of the room in frustration.

Being an older sister is hard. While trying to be a role model to my younger brother and six cousins, I also acquired the responsibility of watching over and taking care of them. Whether it’s assisting my brother with his math homework or helping my cousin tie his shoes, I have always believed that as the elder figure, I am accountable for teaching my younger siblings. After 12 years of die-hard experience, however, I have come to realize something completely different.

Flash back to my spring break family reunion-I was breaking up an intense quarrel between my two little cousins over a Lego piece. As I slowly pulled the Lego away, tears, screams, and anger erupted throughout the room. I turned my back on them for a few moments, only to notice the screams slowly fade away.

The next thing I knew, they were working happily together to finish their intricate design of a Lego fire engine. How could they go from what seemed like a life-and-death traumatization to acting as if nothing had ever happened, in the matter of just a couple minutes?

After spending two more weeks with my cousins, I realized that it was quite common for them to forgive, forget, and move on within a few short moments. Whether they had a frustrating day at school or their parents yelled at them, it was never long before they were smiling and jumping around with more energy than I thought was possible.

While observing and ironically learning from my younger relatives, I could not help but think back to the frustration I felt when teaching my brother how to complete a trivial math problem. If my cousins could express their anger and let go of it in such a short amount of time, why did I hold on to my resentment for so much longer?

As we get older, many of us tend to unnecessarily exasperate over the simplest occurrences, like a lost pencil or a B+ on a quiz. Contrastingly, younger children are able to “go with the flow” without focusing on the past or worrying about the future. They live in the present by doing what they enjoy.

Needless to say, as high school students, we inevitably have a considerably larger amount of stress, work, and responsibility on our shoulders. So this type of happy-go-lucky attitude may be difficult to exhibit.

Small aspects of it, however, are not impossible. By eliminating a portion of our worries and instead learning to relish the once-in-a-lifetime moments that we experience, we can substantially reduce the amount of pressure we put on ourselves.

So, take this advice from the younger ones of the world. Although we may know how to survive, they are the ones who know how to live.