That Feeling When You're Little Brother Isn't Little Anymore

My little brother has always been my mini sidekick, constant playmate, biggest nuisance, favorite person to baby, and a source of comfort. Being five years older than my brother has always placed me in the role of being the wiser, more protective sibling. I have always considered it my job to be a good role model for him to look up to.

Turns out, however, that it’s now me who’s looking up to my younger brother—both literally and figuratively.

It both breaks my heart and makes me overwhelmingly proud to watch my little brother become a man before my eyes. He is just about to finish his first year of high school, and is about a head taller and a million times wiser than I was at his age. He just got his first girlfriend, is taking puberty like a champ, juggles his sports and schoolwork and friends successfully, and takes the bus home every day. He’s smart and independent, and most importantly, he’s kind.

And yet, even though my brother is doing well by all means, and is turning out a be a pretty great person in general, I find myself wanted to butt in and fix things for him. I still want to help him on all of his homework, even if he doesn’t need it. I want to intercept whenever he’s in an argument with my parents. I want to yell at his coaches when I feel like he didn’t get fair playing time. I want to be able to make sure he’s making smart decisions when he’s with his friends, that he won’t bully others, and that he’ll be able to find healthy ways to cope with his stress. I want to still be the protective older sister.

But I think I have realized that although I will always be the protective older sister, the ways I need to be there for my little brother have changed. The time for me to pick him up when he’s fallen on the playground is over. I can’t be next to him at school anymore, when he’s making tough choices, and I can’t help him deal with all of the adversity and consequences he’s bound to face.

It’s not my job anymore, though, to do those things for him. Instead, it’s my time to change as well and to not just be the “big sister,” but a best friend and a confidant. It’s my turn to not only be a role model for him but to encourage him to become someone that I can look up to, as well.

It’s a little scary when you see that your little brother is suddenly old enough to date, is a lot taller than you, and is entering a phase in which he’ll have to face a lot of challenges that come with young adulthood. Brother-sister dynamics are especially interesting to navigate during this time of change—it would be my worst nightmare to see my brother turn into the kind of guy I hate being around. And even though so much has changed, and will change, I know he’s still the same goofy and cute kid and is now not only my little brother but also my very best friend.