People have called me unusually mature for my age. While part of me is reluctant to agree (I hope nobody saw me tackle the KidsQuest Atrium Climber!), part of me can see where they’re coming from. I have a greater incentive to be a role-model as the oldest of three girls. On top of that, my sister Claire (7) is a full decade younger than me. My friends call it fun, my parents call it free babysitting, and I call it a unique opportunity for all of us to grow as sisters and people.

I can hardly imagine such a world anymore, but the BC (Before Claire) era is most often remembered as a time of frequent conflict. Audrey (14) and I are much closer in age and could always find things to quarrel about. We were always getting in each other’s way, as siblings usually do. Though I have no doubt that we would have grown out of that stage of our lives on our own, the arrival of Claire most definitely expedited the process. Suddenly, we were responsible for showing her how to behave. We were constant presences in her life, tending to her every need. Bickering declined and we grew as people, thrilled to have a baby sister to boss around someday.

Today, I’m baffled at the difference ten years can make on the same household. My American Girl doll and I were inseparable when I was younger, but Claire is constantly glued to a screen of some sort. She watches YouTube, plays Minecraft, and tells us that she wants to be internet famous when she grows up. Various research has been done on the effects of technology on young kids, but if anything’s for certain it’s that my seven-year-old sister is just about as tech-savvy as I am. She can surf the web, code with Scratch, and tell us when the internet router needs to be reset. I never learned how to do any of these things; is this the future?

It’s easy to point out how different we are, but there are ways that my sisters and I connect without even thinking. For example, we all love video games and are known for fierce Mario Kart rivalries. We shower our toy poodle, Dash, with too much affection and too many treats. According to Dad, karaoke runs in our blood; maybe that’s why we can’t help belting out the Hamilton soundtrack on a regular basis. No matter the age gap, there are ways to spend time together that the whole family can enjoy.

Here are some of my tried-and-true suggestions:

  • Walking to the store together (to get ice-cream!)
  • Impromptu dance parties
  • Card/board games that appeal to all ages, Apples to Apples is a great one
  • Checking out the latest blockbuster at the theater
  • Baking and letting the youngest mix
  • Home “spa” day
  • Letting the youngest dictate the activity, no matter how crazy
  • Origami folding
  • A visit to KidsQuest!

When all’s said and done, a large sibling age gap can be a beautiful thing. I have Claire to keep me youthful and Claire has me to guide her through the places I’ve already been. The relationship takes effort on both sides of the spectrum, but there’s no question that it’s absolutely worth it. The bond I have with my sisters is unbreakable and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Contributed by Sophie Lee