As an older sibling myself, I have faced these same situations. I have three younger sisters, the oldest is a sophomore at West Campus and the other two are both in middle school at Montini.
In March of 2020, when we first went into lock-down, I was fortunate enough to my parents working from home with my sisters and I. We quickly settled into a new routine and my only real role was to finish my junior year.
With the beginning of a new school year, my two youngest sisters, fourth and sixth grade, went back to school with masks and social distancing. My mom, a speech and language pathologist at District 15, stayed home with my other sister and I as we fulfilled our school responsibilities digitally. At this point, I did not have to play a very different role as an older sibling.
Things really changed when my youngest two sisters had to be at home and learning 100 percent remote in late fall when there was a surge in COVID-19 cases. With my mom working from home and all four of us learning from home, we all had to settle into a new routine and learning how to work together in a way that would be beneficial to all of us.
All of my younger sisters are older and therefore generally self-sufficient, but I have still had to take up responsibilities to help them get through their days successfully. From helping with internet or computer issues to making lunch, adjusting to yet another new routine was not as challenging as I first thought it would be.
One of the most different parts of my day, is constantly making sure I am available to help one of my younger sisters when they need it. Sometimes they need help with an assignment while I am working through my own assignments and other times they need a snack or drink while I have a break between classes.
But despite this sometimes benign a challenge, I have learned a lot form the experience. I have learned to more fully appreciate the work that teacher put into helping us succeed in our lessons and the opportunity to be able to go to school. The saying, “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” has never been more relatable.
More importantly though, I have learned the importance of working together. Although I have taken on a bigger role in helping my younger sisters during digital learning, they still help me. We all help each other get through the day through words of encouragement, small gestures of kindness, and the ability to enjoy afternoons together that we normally would not have had.
Through all of this, I have had the opportunity to spend a lot more time with my younger sisters and that is something that I am very thankful for. I have grown closer to all three of them and created memories with them that I never would have if we did not have all this time home together. As much as I have helped them through the pandemic, whether it is school work or entertainment, my sisters have also helped me through the pandemic.