Tomorrow, my sister turns 18-years-old. She is 4 years younger than me, so I can’t believe how quickly her 18th has come around – it certainly doesn’t feel 4 years since my 18th! We have a really good relationship. Most of the time anyway! We have those ‘typical sibling moments’ where we cannot stand the sight of one another, just like all siblings. And as girls, there are times when all sense and reasoning goes out of the window! There are times where I could happily punch her and/or sell her off on eBay!
But, my sister is slightly different to your average 18-year-old. My sister shows a level of compassion and thoughtfulness for others that you don’t tend to see in people of her age. I talk from experience – when I was 18, if my so-called then ‘friends’ were able to have the level of compassion that my sister has, my life would have been so much better. My ‘friends’ were so concerned about appearing ‘cool’ and doing what they wanted all of the time that keeping their friendship with me was clearly a bridge too far for them.
My sister has been brought up from day 1 as disability to be the ‘norm’. From the beginning, she knew I wasn’t ‘weird’, she just saw me as her annoying big sister who just so happened to wobble about a bit and who needed a bit of extra help. Even from a really young age, she got angry at other children who stared – she couldn’t understand why they were even staring as to her there was nothing ‘abnormal’ about me (although she’d probably beg to differ now!).
She is now in Sixth Form and recently applications opened for Head Boy & Head Girl as well as their deputies. The positions were awarded in September and there was a selected team of Deputy Head Girls, however no Deputy Head Boys were selected. To allow the person I am talking about to remain anonymous I will not go into any details, but a boy with a disability applied and he got through to the final selection round. However, as I have just said, no Deputy Head Boys were selected. This really, really upset my sister – she witnessed how upset the boy was and felt there was a possibility the boy hadn’t been selected, even though there were quite clearly available positions, because people felt that he wouldn’t be able to cope with the position with his disability. My sister couldn’t let this go and to cut a long story short, the boy is now Deputy Head Boy because of my sister. My sister is by no means the most confident of people, so it was her compassion that really drove this.
I still don’t understand how and why my sister at the tender age of 2-years-old could totally understand my disability and she knew exactly what Cerebral Palsy was, yet my ‘friends’ throughout secondary school struggled with the whole concept. My sister is a true example of how if children are introduced and educated about disability from a young age rather than ‘protected’, people like me are accepted. Age-wise, my sister is my little sister, but in reality she looks out for me and makes sure that I’m okay.
Happy 18th Birthday Anna – you are so unbelievably annoying, but I love you and thank you for being the caring, compassionate and lovely person that you are!