The other day, as I drove along with just Little Geek Shui in the car, we were talking about his little brother. With him being eight and his brother not yet four months old, there is a considerable gap. Little Geek Shui loves his little brother, Baby Geek Shui. He reads to him, tries to soothe him when he cries, and generally just helps out with him however he can.
As we talked, I asked him why he thought he should be a good big brother. He responded that his brother is just a baby. He said, “Who would be mean to a baby?” It makes sense, right? Who would be mean. I told him that, although that was correct, I was getting at something else. I told him that, as a father, I can show Baby Geek Shui how to be a good dad and husband, while Baby Geek Shui’s mom could show him what a good mother looks like. I told him that there was one big piece left…
…how to be a good brother.
Explaining it as easily understandable as possible, I told Little Geek Shui that everything he said, did or, in some cases, didn’t say or didn’t do would serve as a lesson for Baby Geek Shui as to what a brother should be like. I went on to tell him that everything he did would contribute greatly to how Baby Geek Shui grows as a person.
(Now, some might say that this is a lot of pressure to put on an eight year old, but I would argue that instilling a sense of responsibility and applying pressure are two entirely different things.)
Continuing on, I explained that his job, as a big brother, is to take care of his little brother. Examples such as taking him places and picking him up, helping him with his homework, or teaching him how to play video games were included in our discussion. At the end, I asked him if he understood why all of this was important. Little Geek Shui indicated that he did, indeed, understand that it is his duty to take care of his little brother.
Finally, I told him that there was one more reason that had to do with him. Explaining that one day, many years from now, he would be 80, while his brother would be 72, I said, “You might need your brother to take care of you. The same kindness, understanding and love that you show him now is what he is likely to show you when you need it most.”
Too much pressure? I think not. We learn how to be many things in life. One may not have to go to school to learn to be a big brother, but we definitely need a nudge in the right direction.
I have no doubt Little Geek Shui will continue to be a helpful and loving big brother. After all, that’s just the kind of kid he is. In the end, I don’t pretend to think that every big brother is like him, but I think the world would definitely be a better place if they were.