September 2020


Last Sibling

One of the bad things about being the fourth child in a family with four children (or for that matter, any child but the first child), is the fact that the path you walk is not a new path.

In elementary school, I had the same kindergarten teacher and third grade teacher as at least one, if not all of my siblings. I escaped a similar fate in fourth grade when the teacher my siblings had left for a sabbatical that year: my mother wanted her to teach me as well.

Keep in mind that I was the last child by a rather large margin: 9 years. That means the last time my 1980 kindergarten teacher had taught a sibling of mine was in 1971: before I was born, so I had it relatively easy. I imagine that for my sibling it was even worse: last in a relatively tight row of three, all the impressions and expectations of slightly older siblings—who were attending the same school—meant that teachers took one look and thought to themselves, “Ah ha! I know what to expect!”

Oddly enough the only other person at my elementary school that I had in common with my siblings was the librarian—she had worked with my mother and siblings for years, so there were definite expectations about with my library use, which I fulfilled.

By middle school, the situation was completely different—the school system had changed its approach to education and what had once been a junior high was now a middle school, and the turnover of teachers seemed to be more rapid. I was left with only three tangential remnants of my siblings: the gym teacher, appropriately named “Champion,” the librarian, and a guidance councilor. Two were great, and the third convinced me that guidance councilor offices were the province of idiots—people with little clue about graduation requirements, student capabilities, and guiding students.

Not quite understanding the concept at the time I once remarked about the man, “I don’t understand how he got tenure; I don’t understand how he got one-year.”

So when I left the system, I thought that there was no way any teacher I ever had would ever teach anybody in my family again. How wrong I was – to some degree, with respect to my youngest nephew.

In middle school, his principal was my eight grade science teacher—a man who made a valiant effort at teaching the brightest (me and three or four other kids), the average (25 other kids), and the idiotic-behaviorally challenged types (about five kids, who came with their own full-time behavior monitor)—all in one classroom.

High School is a bit odder: it seems that one of my classmates (who I only vaguely recall) is one of my nephew’s math teachers. I don’t know what to make of this development—how can there be any expectations for my nephew? He never taught me—I wonder how much he remembers about me. I can only vaguely recall the name—and thanks to my nephew’s prompting, I know his ethnicity and height.

Such information hasn’t helped me remember any additional details.

2 comments to Last Sibling

  • koko

    There weren’t any expectations for me either. My brother went to South, sister went to North…and 17 years later I went to edgewood…so all different schools. I think it’s funny though that my bro and sis were so close in age but went to different schools because they hated each other so much. *gigglesnort*

    though i remember some of my friends being the youngest and having certain expectations based upon their siblings…they hated it.

  • @koko: The sibling rivalry must have been exceptionally intense.