27 July 2017, by Nicholas Quek
I don’t typically express my emotions in dramatic fashion, so my sister’s screeching upon passing her driving test took me by surprise. The both of us had been learning driving for a few months already, but due to my carelessness, my test date got pushed back after hers. She walked in ecstatic and squealing – it was quite the experience.
The thing that surprised me the most though, was what she said in the midst of her excitement: ‘kor (big brother), do you want me to walk you through the test procedure? I think it’ll help a lot if you know what the whole procedure is like so you don’t get caught off guard like I did.’
I agreed, and she went on to list down certain things I had to bring that our instructor didn’t tell us beforehand, namely a passport photo to make the driving license, as well as our ICs. She also went on to explain the entire procedure of the test, all the way from our pre-test warm up session till the final park. I stood there and listened intently, though slightly bewildered as a thought passed through my mind,
“When did I stop being the older brother?”
The stereotypical role of an older brother usually consists of the following traits – protective, knowledgeable, and to some degree more capable than his younger siblings. At least that was what I thought. As I sat there listening to my sis ‘educate’ me on the procedure of the driving test, I thought to myself, ‘Shouldn’t I be doing this? Shouldn’t I be the one teaching her?’ and it felt like the roles had reversed.
She was the mature, older sibling, and I was the inexperienced younger one. For so many years, I had been the one who’d help her with her schoolwork, walk her through new experiences, teach her the ropes of any new skill – I was always the one helping her.
Then something hit me, ‘I don’t need to know everything.’
I think for a long time as an older brother, I felt that it was my responsibility to be better equipped than all my siblings, so that I could teach and guide them. Whether it be studies, hobbies or any other activity, I had to fulfill the role of an older brother and make sure that I could teach and guide them. But if there’s anything I’ve learned so far, it’s that I don’t need to be better at everything, or even anything for that matter. My role as an older brother doesn’t require me to be better than my siblings at anything, and that frees me up to learn from them instead.
Driving aside, there are a number of things that my younger siblings are better at than me:
- My sister’s enthusiasm and positivity is something that I fail to keep up with regularly.
- And superior intelligence and physical fitness aside, my brother has spoken to more girls in the past week than I have my entire life.
The next day I took my test, and I passed with flying colours – no doubt with help from my sister’s advice. I have a lot to learn from my siblings still, and that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop equipping myself to better guide my siblings. What that does mean, is that I don’t have to be embarrassed when my younger siblings excel at something I don’t.
I still think I’m a better driver though.