Family is a weird thing. Each one is different and “special” in some way. Looking around at any sample of people, they’ll have different numbers of siblings, their parents may or may not still be together, etc.

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful little sister. There are two brothers between us. The age gap has served to make me be up there in her hero(ine) status, and I can see potential in her for becoming a great person. If we were closer in age, we may have problems. Instead, I have the difficult task of being her role model.

Until she was 3 and I was 10 we shared a room. At that point I couldn’t stand her, mostly because every day while I was at school she would throw everything I had in drawers out onto the floor. And I had to clean it up.

With each year, we’ve become closer. Now she’s at an age where her teenage sister is about the coolest thing she has. At times she annoys me with her “run up and kiss me on the cheek” thing. I know she’s showing affection, but sometimes-dang.

I want her to be a good person. I don’t do any drugs or drinking, so I tell her why those things can hurt her and/or the people around her. I have excellent grades and take hard classes, so I teach her about the importance of challenging herself and always doing whatever her personal best may be. I have no appreciation for the boy and girl bands, so I teach her why being fake and someone you’re not just to please others isn’t worth it. Perhaps most importantly, I tell her the truth about things. Of course, some subjects are left with, “I’ll tell you later.”

I wouldn’t have thought that my little sister would be one of my best friends. She still has a long ways to go to really be able to comprehend most of what I’ve told her. But she’s there for me. If she sees me crying, she comes in to talk. She usually cries too, because if I’m sad then so is she. When I have a new boyfriend, she embraces him as her new favorite guy. If a boy hurts me, he’s instantly on her “poop” list. While friends are disloyal at times, she will come running home from a friend’s house if I ask her to.

She has problems with her friends, and I take the time to talk with them. I remember what it’s like to have elementary school problems. My sister also worries about things like starting a new grade, getting her first male teacher, the boy she has a crush on is oblivious to girls. I talk her through it all. And when I have worries, she asks the simplest questions and says things or solutions that only an innocent little girl could. And it helps.

Our family as a whole is far from perfect. Even my sister and I fight at times. But we’re there for each other in a way that surprises even me. Sure, it only takes a present of some scented lip balm to make her entire week better. And maybe all she can give me are hugs and innocent queries about my seemingly far-off world. But it’s great.

Besides, being a role model keeps you from going astray. I have to practice what I preach. Often I think that I’m not worthy of the elated opinion she has of me, but she probably doesn’t realize that she’s as great as I think she is.