In the home of the free— in America, as we know it— many people are still complaining. Many people are currently debating about, well, almost anything. There’s always a problem with everything and anything, but one thing remains constant: the American people’s fight for change. It could be our strive for progression and advancement, but we should stop and think. Think about the progression we Americans have already made. In 1791, when this nation was still young, pamphleteer Thomas Paine wrote Rights of Man, praising the unity of the nation that had stemmed from the diversity and equality among its people. Although many people will argue that there are still many changes to come, if we reflect on the reform that this country has endured, it is evident that much of the equality and unity pervades throughout the country today.
“All men are created equal.” That is what the Declaration of Independence states. True, for much of the union’s early history, there was much inequality and discrimination throughout the country against Blacks, Irishmen, Chinese, Native Americans, immigrants, and women. However, today in 2011— 220 years after Thomas Paine wrote Rights of Man— women, Blacks, immigrants, and all other people are legally equal. The 15th Amendment prohibits the denial of suffrage based on race and the 18th base on gender. AS long as the people are legally equal, they have the capacity to accomplish whatever they deem necessary. Look at the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Rights Movement. These are two defining moments in Unites States history in which equality was achieved. Over the past couple of years, more and more women have been graduating from college. Slowly and slowly, more women than men are receiving associates, bachelors, and master degrees; recent polls show that now more women than men are receiving doctorates. Another fact to consider is that the President of the United States is African American. That says something. All the freedoms and rights we possess, we take from granted. For example, many of the settlers in America, before the tradition of Thanksgiving, had come over the Atlantic Ocean in escape of religious persecution and the in search of a new life. Today, people not only respect one another for their religious beliefs and cultural differences, but also begin fostering such tolerance during the children’s early years in grade school.
Yes, there’s still inequality in the nation. Yes, there will always be prejudice. However, it isn’t acceptable. This society doesn’t accept it. Taxes maybe unfair and the rich may get their way more than we’d like, but there’s always room for change, for progression. The American justice system provides a way in which people are able to fight against inappropriate policies. People fight for change and show signs of discontent only because they know they are capable of producing change within the country.
America has always been known as a melting pot, a conglomeration of different peoples from its beginning. Go to New York and you’ll find a Chinatown, a Little Italy, and several other ethnic areas. Walk into any classroom and you’ll find people of different skin tones and of different cultures. There’s so much diversity and yet, as Thomas Paine says, “by the simple operation of constructing the government on the principles of society and the rights of man, every difficulty retires, and all the parts are brought into cordial union.” The fact that America is the melting pot is equivalent to it being a salad. A salad isn’t a salad unless the different parts are there. It isn’t a salad unless you see lettuce, tomatoes, almonds, cranberries, grated cheese, chicken, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, and an assortment of dressings in it. Salad that’s just lettuce isn’t called “salad.” It’s lettuce. Obviously. Likewise, America is the same way. The very basis of American society is the unity of the people, no matter what blood runs through their veins.
The phrase “the United States of America” connotes personal freedom and rights and equality. In Chinese, America is called “Mei Guo.” It directly translates into “beautiful country.” The beauty of American lies within its equality of opportunity and its unity of its people. To the English speaking world, America is the United States of America.
It is not easy being the older sister. Not easy at all. Not to mention completely unfair.
Junior year has just started for me, and my little sister has just started middle school. After weeks and weeks of filling her in on all the little quirks to middle school, I just began to wish that I had someone like that for me.
In the long shot, I guess I should have anticipated some sort of feeling like this. For example, when I was coming up with my council election speech, I was always envious of my friends with older siblings who knew what the crowd wanted.
So, that being said, I have decided that there are many reasons why my little sister should get into a better college than I do.
- I tell her about the teachers
- I tell her what to expect, and what to ignore
- She starts extra-curricular activities early
- My parents know what do expect
- I won’t be around to bug her when she’s in high school
Especially when you get into high school, teachers become a major part of your life. Especially for someone like me, who actually enjoys getting to know the quirks of the people around you. And… it’s not cool when I spend time figuring this stuff out and all my sister has to do is open her mouth and ask me about it.
Now, my little sister and I have similar expectations and have gone through most of the same experiences, so the roots of our characters are intrinsically similar. This just means that whatever opinion I have of a teacher will probably be the same one she has later on.
How is this beneficial to her? Well, I just become a reliable source.
On another note, if she so happens gets a teacher I had, well BAM. Instant connection with the teacher… while I had to wait weeks until she/he could even figure out how to pronounce my name correctly (much less match it to my face).
Then, she’ll be able to ask me for help when she’s doing homework, making projects, or even studying for tests. The only thing I could ever ask her to do is to either A) help me color in my geography maps for AP World History or B) show me the front side of my flash card.
Yeah… not fair.
2. Knowing What to Expect
When anyone enters a new field, surrounding, or environment, it is always important to know what to expect. Why? Well, it’s efficient. You’ll know what you need, what you’ll need to do, and what you won’t need to do. There won’t be any wasted time or minutes on those “what if…” or “just in case” or “you never know.”
Personally, I’ll always ask my older friends what they thought of teachers, school, events, tests, and such, but there’s always a level of uncertainty. At the end of the conversation, someone will say “but, you’re smarter than me,” or “that’s just you.” Granted, it may be the same way with my little sister, but I know her well enough that she’ll know what expect.
Knowing what to expect also means having a clearer picture of what’s in front of you. This seems pretty basic, but for kids entering the middle school, or even high school, having a clearer picture of what you’re about to expect could help a lot. Especially when you have enough to worry about as it is.
3. Early Extra-Curricular Activities
This one is kind of a biggy for me. My sister and I started soccer at the same time, meaning she started when she was 6 in the 1st grade while I was 10 in the 5th grade. It doesn’t seem like a big difference, but most soccer players start when they’re 4 or 5, just kicking around that size 2 ball in those adorable pink Nike cleats, if they’re a girl.
So, my sister is now entering the 7th grade and her soccer has progressed so much that at this point, she’s playing club soccer at the Silver Elite level; I’m now in the 11th grade and dropped club soccer due to lack of extra time at home, but I’ve joined a recreational, low-stress team.
Now mind you, we were pretty neck and neck in terms of soccer. We both played recreational AYSO soccer for two years, then went to AYSO Plus, and then to bronze club teams. Then we split. My team was good enough to squeeze into the silver bracket, and by that time, I was in the 8th grade. My sister progressed to silver in the next year, stayed there, and then finally switched teams this past season into a silver elite team. What’s the key difference?
When you’re older and getting into high school soccer, a lot of the good soccer teams are pretty much solidified, with the exception of a few spots. When you’re younger, everyone’s riding the same roller coaster, rising and falling as they jump around from team to team, so there’s lots of flexibility.
My sister was in that nice ride, while I was still stuck in line, waiting for a spot.
BESIDES SOCCER (and other sports), this also applies to other stuff as well, like community service.
This is definitely not fair.
All my little sister literally has to do is tag along. Whatever I do, she does. I have to actually do the work to find the work (because I’m the one concerned about this stuff) and if she’s bored (or doesn’t have a soccer game), she’ll tag along.
And, when she gets into high school, she’ll already know what to do, what clubs to sign up for, what events to look for, or even what kind of community service she even likes.
This is also a major “issue.” In general, people say that the first kid is always the “guinea pig.” Not just in school- I mean in EVERYTHING.
Like as in… what to expect.
If siblings are going to the same school, then they’ll know the school schedule, course list, activities, teachers, and supplies.
I feel like the phrase, “if you don’t get it right the first time, then get it right the second time,” is a very central aspect to this topic.
If the first kid wasted too much time in band, then make sure the second one doesn’t join; if the first one doesn’t join council, get the little one involved earlier; if the older one didn’t get to know his counselor early enough, make sure the little one knows WAY ahead of time. Stuff like that.
Now those exact situations didn’t happen in my household because A) I unintentionally forged a good relationship with my counselor freshmen year B) I LOVE council and started pretty early C) I was in orchestra.
But anyways, it’s the same mantra. Parents knowing what to expect makes it easier on the kid because most of the mistakes resulting from trial-and-error were made on the guinea pig- I mean, eldest child.
Yes, mistakes can happen the second time around, but my point is that the first one gets more in general just because the parents and eldest kid are learning about the education institution at the same time.
5. Future Absence of the Older Kid
This is one that I just realized recently. Right now, I’m studying for big tests, big grade-breakers, SAT’s and whatnot, and my little sister can be ten feet away screeching on her violin (not literally, but it’s still an annoying sound), playing on her iTouch, singing a random song, talking/ mumbling to herself about who-knows-what, or anything serving as a distraction in general.
Or when I have an important meeting to go to, I have to pull the “I don’t have a ride” card because my parents are off watching my sister’s soccer game or taking her somewhere.
When she’s in high school, during the “most important years of her life,” it’ll be dead silent. I’ll be long gone at who knows where.
Leaving my little sister at the comfort of our home, studying away to her little heart’s content, without distractions, without murmuring, without chattering, without ME. I’m awfully annoying. BUT, I won’t be there to have it negatively affect her in any way.
Another thing, the parents giving you rides everywhere is actually very important. With two kids, just realize that picking up and send them takes not only a lot of time out of the parents’ hands, but also a lot of energy. I have commitments, my little sister has commitments, but so do my parents. When they’re suddenly down one kid, they suddenly cut a lot of ties strings and then have just enough time. Where does this time go?
With the little sister.
IN THE END
No, I don’t hate my sister; I actually love her like nothing else in the world. No, it’s not fair, but I’ve learned that life isn’t fair VERY long ago and have outgrown that complaint. No, I’m not going to blame my sister when/if I fail my college applications next year.
I love my sister to death, and I will do anything to help her get into her dream college. AND, I will do anything to make sure she can be best she can, regardless of where I am “compared to her.” She’s my little sister. Meaning, I’m her big sister. Meaning, I have to look out for her, for her best interests. I want to be the big sister that I wish I had, so that she wouldn’t have to feel the same way I did.
Why did I write this then? Honestly, I’ve just been noticing that I hear and tell people that I wish I was the younger child quite a lot. I gave it some thought and organized into a nice (or mean or nasty) “article” I guess.
I’d like to see this as only one side of the fence, but lord knows how many sides to this fence there are. This is just one of them, and might I add… it’s pretty one-sided.
To my senior friends: Good luck!
To everyone else: Thanks for reading this(:
PS: Please follow me here and on Twitter (pristineyiyi)!
A TRIBUTE TO DUMPLING & COOKIE
R.I.P. Rest in peace.
I never actually understood what that meant. Not entirely.
In fact, I’m sure I still don’t know what it means. But today, on July 7 of 2011, I think I may have just come a little bit closer to understanding.
Today (July 7, 2011)
After I came home today from my summer school class, I turned into the courtyard to find Cookie, my last beloved guinea pig, turned on her side beneath her water bottle in the corner of the cage… completely immobile. The initial shock was quick and rode over soon; for once, I did not shed a single tear.
I had seen the exact same position barely a month ago, with Dumpling, Cookie’s lifetime sister and partner. I loved them the same, no matter how different their personalities were. However, the only difference was that I knew that Cookie and Dumpling were at peace.
Dumpling and Cookie were two of 16 guinea pigs dumped in box at the West Los Angeles Animal Shelter in the summer of 2006. On July 15th, my mom drove my sister and I up to LA to bring home two of them.
In general, guinea pigs are not given as much time at the shelter as cats or dogs or even bunnies. Many people have never even heard of a guinea pig, a fact that did not help the 16 lives scuttling around in that box. They were given three days to be adopted. Dumpling and Cookie were probably the only two lucky guinea pigs to have made it out.
I had chosen Dumpling because she was chubby, furry, humble, and over-all the sort of cute dumdum personality that I loved. Her disinclination to move and her adorable chubbiness gave me the idea for her name. Dumpling.
Cookie was smart, energetic, wriggly, and a lovable guinea pig all in one. Her personality matched my little sister’s a lot as well: impatient, fidgety, quiet at times, stubborn, and more cunning than your average guinea pig.
And so, just like that, Dumpling and Cookie were brought into the family.
For a while, the two baby guinea pigs served as companions to Blueberry, my older Abyssian guinea pig. She mothered the two and when she passed away, it was just
Dumpling and Cookie, side by side, for the rest of their lives. They spent most of their time together wherever they were. When there were two houses out, they cuddled in the far corner of the smallest house. When they were out on the big open grass field, they cuddled together (eating grass, of course) beneath a lawn chair or next to the fence. Cookie liked to walk around Dumpling for new grass. Dumpling liked to stretch her neck as far as she could in each direction to eat the grass until she was compelled to take one step forward to reach new grass. If Cookie ever strayed too far from Dumpling on the grass, Dumpling would let out a shrilling shriek, effectively bringing Cookie back to her side.
The only time I’ve ever seen them separate is when I give them a piece of fresh fruit or vegetable for them to eat. If it’s one piece of a watermelon, Dumpling would be sure to be the first one to sink her teeth into it and drag it to a far corner of the cage. Cookie would follow the scent of fresh food to the food bowl and then inevitably to Dumpling, and whenever they confronted each other over a piece of watermelon or apple or lettuce, and tug-of-war between the two would ensue.
I’d like to think that I had trained them, but I’m sure they just figured it out by themselves. I’m not sure when they figured it out and I’m not sure when I caught on, but eventually, either Dumpling or Cookie would squeal whenever they didn’t have enough pellets, wanted new water, or just wanted fresh fruit and veggies. For the first time in my life, I could listen to my guinea pigs. They were communicating with me. And I was so proud of them.
It was the most adorable sight when they began to bond with my German shepherd, Novva (Nova, but with 2 v’s). Novva is turning two this August and is currently 90 pounds, lean yet robust, as tall as our dining table, and taller than me when he stands up. But he loved Dumpling and Cookie… just like how they loved him. While they grazed, Novva was always by their sides, watching them. His ears perked up at any sudden movements or sounds, but the best part was how he liked to herd Cookie towards Dumpling whenever she strayed to far. One day, the duo were grazing in the yard and Cookie had disappeared when I stepped outside. It was just a backyard, with a little blob of fur sitting immobile in the middle of the grass. However, I immediately noticed Novva to my left, with his head in the bushes, nudging something with his nose. That something turned out to be the second missing blob of fur, Cookie. I think he took pride in the two because they were the two little babies that he wanted to protect.
However, what Novva shared with them seems insignificant compared to their relationship with each other. It was an unbreakable bond between two sisters.
So when Dumpling passed away, I knew what was coming.
I sensed Dumpling’s atrophy early on; I had remained cautious ever since she passed her fourth year of life. She didn’t like to stretch or move much when she grazed, she was less energetic with her food, and she just seemed old.
I found her frozen on her side, beneath the water bottle in the corner of the cage; Cookie was hiding in the house on the other side of the cage. I cried. And cried. And cried. I held her to my chest and the tears could not stop. It was too sudden, and it was so hit home much harder than I ever thought was possible because I had learned a very valuable lesson.
There are many things in life I want, that I want to do, that I shouldn’t be doing, etc. The list goes on. However, in the end, many many many of those “things” don’t matter. What killed me was that I had to learn it by losing a loved one.
She died Friday afternoon on June 3 in 2011. I had two SAT II’s and Prom the next day. Before, I was so pumped because I was going to Prom as a sophomore (I was supposed to work there, but it’d only be a 30 minute shift so I’d get to party with my friends later on anyways). Afterwards, it seemed like the stupidest thing in the world. My guinea pig had been slowly dying while I was off wondering about my Prom dress. It is the most rotten feeling in the world. I cancelled with my group, even though I had an obligation to fulfill, because it wasn’t what I wanted to do for Dumpling. I loved her… so much. I just had to remain with her.
What made it harder than it should of been was Cookie. It broke my heart knowing that Cookie, who always had Dumpling by her side, would now have to live alone. Sure there was my little sister, Novva, and me, but the three of us could never be a Dumpling to her. It would never be the same.
Looking back, I only wish I realized how important and how valuable time is. I had spent so much time on trivial matter. I thought about my Facebook status, my summer clothes, the new house I was moving into, high school friends, etc. It all seemed oh so very life-threatening important back then. Spending time with Dumpling and Cookie could always wait another day. Suddenly, there was no “tomorrow” that I could spend with Dumpling.
I would do anything to buy back the time I had lost.
But I couldn’t.
I wish I realized this before.
Life is like a strand of string… the string goes on and on… but it gets cut eventually. That’s why it’s called a strand.
Everyone knew what was going to happen to Cookie. And everyone did their best to delay it as long as possible.
Every weekend morning, our family would eat breakfast on a short coffeetable in the courtyard with Novva lying beside us and with Cookie running around. When Cookie was in the cage, we opened the doors so Novva could stick his head in. There was always freshly cut grass or new Timothy hay with a side of lettuce, watermelon, or apple. She had her own little fan to prevent heatstroke and her cage was never in the sun.
Last night, my little sister came to me in tears, telling me of how Cookie stopped eating, stopped moving and jumping, and how she knew the time was coming soon. We just never thought soon meant today.
Today, I found her frozen beneath the water bottle in the corner of the cage. I screamed, but then I remained frozen as my little sister cradled our lifeless baby in her arms. This time I didn’t cry.
I just couldn’t… Cookie was happy.
She was ready and wanted to leave. She knew Dumpling was waiting for her, and she did not want to stay any longer. If I were her, I would have done the same thing. It was just… time to go.
I cannot articulate how happy I am for her and for Dumpling. A month after Dumpling left, they were quickly reunited.
It’s what Cookie wanted, and I can’t think of a happier ending for them.
And it is now that I can grasp the idea of closure. Of peace. All Cookie ever wanted was to be with her sister, her life-long partner. Finally together, what more could you ask for?
Now I cry and tear whenever I walk past our now empty courtyard. Nothing’s the same without those two furry blobs of squeaking fur. I love them to death, and now I can only hope that they knew that.
But, Dumpling and Cookie, I just want you to know that I love you. So very much. I wish we had more time.
Rest in peace, my loves,
Dumpling and Cookie
I love you two, forever & always
IN THE END
Time is so many things.
It’s flying. It’s spent. It’s being wasted. It’s valuable. It’s nonrefundable. It’s unstoppable. It’s constant. It’s the only thing we really truly have and don’t have at the same time.
We have all the time the world. Right?
But in that time, what are we doing with that time? There’s so many answers, but in the end, only a few of them matter.
People spend so much time on just stuff they’re not even going to remember in the future.
We have to spend our time doing things that truly matter to us, with the people we love. Our time with our loved ones is set on a timer. I just don’t think there’s enough time to hate on each other or to fight each other. Your time with each other is so short… why spend it negatively? Essentially, your time with everyone is limited. Each moment gone to waste can never be replaced.
Especially with pets as well. With pets, you can’t be lazy. Being lazy with pets is harming your pets. If you love your dog, go out and walk him for those 30 minutes. It’s never a waste of your time.
Here’s how it rolls down to me… when I die, I’d like to look back on a life with no regrets and one full of happy memories. That being said, I try to spend as much time as I can creating these memories with my loved ones, because I want a lot and I want them to have a lot too. I try to stay focused on a goal and on a dream I have because it’s what I truly want. I want a happy future; it’s only going to come to me if I work harder now. I don’t want to be the one looking back, wishing I had only tried just a little bit harder for that future that is just barely out of my reach. Go all out when you try, and leave no room for regrets.
I wish I could take back some time… but I can’t. I wish I had known. I wish I had just spent more time with Dumpling and Cookie. I don’t think over-loving someone is ever a bad thing. I think wasting time is probably one of the worst things that we can fall victim to.
If you’re reading this, please please please… step back and look at your life right now. Is everything you’re doing related to something that’s really important to you? Everyone’s dying at any given moment, and there’s always that freak accident that might happen. If it does, make sure everyone you love knows that you love them. That’s not something you want to regret.
Dumpling and Cookie, I love you. So much. Rest in Peace.
Forever & Always,