• Lillie Burke

Life lessons from my sister, the first-grader

Thirteen years and 11 months.

A rather lengthy chunk of time, an even greater age gap.

Trust me, I know. That’s the difference between my youngest sibling and me.

With this gap in age, it’s easy to assume that I, as the mature and significantly older sibling, would serve as a role model for my baby sister in matters of life.  The reality is I learn more from the sassy redhead than I can ever fathom teaching her.

Dance when everyone is watching.

The first lesson my sister, affectionately dubbed Pumpkin, taught me deals more with adults’ tendency to put on a front and ignore their desires of living in the moment.

As we grow up, spontaneity is no longer desirable. Everyone is so busy attempting to look professional and be an adult that we miss out on small joys that come from throwing aside strict standards and acting foolish in front of others. Occasionally.

This is not the case for my rambunctious sister. It doesn’t matter where we are – the grocery store, church, meeting the president – if she hears music, that girl will dance.

And not well, mind you. After all, we are still related. But that never stops her. In fact the more people that are around, the more likely she will be to cut a rug or “boogie woogie,” as she calls it.

I can’t help but admire her spunk, her carefree nature allowing her to dance while everyone is watching.

Just tell it like it is.

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Observance of this time-worn saying and an overall lack of frankness are considered, well, socially acceptable.

Of course, Pumpkin has not developed this sense of softening the blow yet, so many times a conversation with her ends with a very true and often surprising statement.

My sister, despite her age, knows what she wants and she knows what is being asked of her. Instead of falling for the old adage of being “Suzy Sunshine,” she will be refreshingly honest.

At the age of 6, the baby of the family has a better grasp of truth and lies and what people need to hear than people four times her age.

No stupid questions.

As an aspiring journalist, I always find fault with irrelevant questions. This is probably why I hate small talk involving the weather or clothing. It has little to do with anything.

The munchkin has a different view on questions. She loves them and has a knack for turning a seemingly irrelevant and stupid question into a reasonable fact.

The best example of this revolves around impressive deductive reasoning skills for a first-grader.

Happy-go-lucky sister skipped and hopped her way into my car after school. She barely got the seat belt buckled before the questions started.

The first was simple and innocent enough.

“Animals have muscles, right?”

Her next question was another easy one concerning muscles being meat, which, of course, we humans eat.

A silence hit the car. I wrongly thought that I had satisfied her knowledge hunt – until my sweet big-blue-eyed sister threw out this gem of a question.

“Autumn, people are made of muscles,” she mused. “Does that mean we can eat people?”

Yes, folks, I inadvertently taught my baby sister about cannibalism.

Needless to say, I’m no longer allowed to answer those kinds of questions. Which is fine with me. She’s the better teacher anyway.

 Autumn Allison, Vision managing editor, is a sophomore journalism major.

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