Sibling dynamics during virtual school

Sibling+dynamics+during+virtual+school

Layne Robinson, Writer, artist

We all know that almost every aspect of life has changed because of quarantine, possibly in ways we do not even fully realize. One of those aspects that is easily overlooked is the sibling dynamic. Many FHS students have siblings; just as many of those have had siblings their entire lives, so it might be easy for a change in that area to go unnoticed. Nevertheless, the change is there, and it’s caused by the shifting school and home environments that we’re all adjusting to this year.

However, this change is by no means universal, as everyone experiences it differently, if at all. One of the students I interviewed, sophomore Lily Harper, did not notice any shift in her interactions with her twin brother. The two interact just as little now as they did before they were stuck at home together, and what little interaction they do have is mostly the same.

Some, including myself, have been negatively affected by these changes. I am home alone with a younger brother all day, and helping him with his work takes up much of my time throughout the school day. It becomes frustrating, and at times I have had to skip class to deal with him when he is having a bad day. Another student, who wished to remain anonymous, has been having a similar problem. He has five younger siblings with whom he shares a small house, and the environment can be very loud and distracting, making it even harder to get things done.

Additionally, both he and I have been frequently interrupted by the need to do things not related to school, resulting in academics being, as he described it, “on and off all day long.” While this lack of structure is causing difficulty for many, who have had trouble communicating with teachers and keeping track of small assignments, some have found it makes school much easier. Kellen Hall, grade 10, said that the virtual environment enabled him to work at his own pace and that he “honestly love[s] it.”

Back to the subject, 11th grader Fiona Eggleston has had an eye-opening few weeks with her siblings. She has two younger sisters, who she has always been close with, and being home with them three days a week has shown her a great deal about how they work and learn. She has seen what subjects they do better in and learned what they need more help with, as well as notice how her youngest sister, who does many extracurriculars, splits her time between them. There have been some issues, such as what she calls “unintentional breaches of … zoom etiquette.”, but she was adamant that talking with her sisters solved all of those problems. As she said, “Communication is the saving grace.”

While some people have been distracted and frustrated by their siblings this school year, some are fascinated by them, and others still have hardly noticed them at all. What about a pair of siblings who did a full 180? This is exactly what happened to Lilly Bekemeier, a junior, and her sophomore brother. Before quarantine, they hated each other and were always fighting, hardly talking to each other otherwise. But, being forced into close quarters physically brought them closer emotionally as well. The two only recently moved to Fayetteville, so the only people they knew in the area were each other, and they had to stick together. They “got super close” as she puts it, and even sit together at lunch sometimes when they’re in the building. Bekemeier also said that her brother is “the only reason I’m at school” and that she would attend virtually if not for him.

Now it is evident that this unique school/life experience is having an effect on the way we interact with some of our closest family members, even if that effect isn’t exactly consistent across households. Keep your own siblings in mind as you brave this new and different school year, and remember that they’re going through many of the same struggles as you. Be good to yourself and your siblings this year, they probably need it.

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