The Problem With Being a Younger Sister

Or the responsibilities of those who have talents…

Younger sisters want to do everything older sisters can do.
The other Sunday at Mass Imogen was the psalm cantor. I glanced at Gemma-Rose while her older sister was up at the lectern singing, and noticed she had a big smile on her face. “Would you like to sing the psalm when you’re older?” I whispered in her ear, and she nodded emphatically.
Imogen’s abilities inspire Gemma-Rose. She wants to be just like her older sister. The only problem is she sometimes gets rather impatient. She wants to sing just like Imogen right now. And she knows she can’t. “You’ll get better with practise,” I say. But that doesn’t help at all. It must be hard for younger siblings, when they have talented older ones who get all the attention. 
The other evening when my family was singing Christmas carols together (and I was filming them), Gemma-Rose got a little upset.
“What’s the matter?”
“Imogen sings so loudly, no one can hear me,” my youngest daughter complained.
I know how she feels. If I stand next to my husband Andy at Mass, I can’t hear myself sing at all. His booming bass voice drowns out my weak voice completely. And if it weren’t for the fact I know God still hears me, I would say, “Why do I bother?”
I suggested Gemma-Rose and Sophie sing a carol on their own which seemed to please them. So they started singing and I started filming, but it wasn’t very long before Gemma-Rose realised she was singing badly out of tune.
“Would you like Imogen to sing quietly with you, to help you sing the right notes?” I suggested.
Gemma-Rose nodded, but added, “As long as you can still hear me.”
So that’s what we did. The singing went fairly smoothly until Callum dropped some spare car parts in the garage and made a noise, which made its way into the lounge room and into our recording. Gemma-Rose coped with that, but then I could see she wasn’t very happy at all. There was an enormous scowl on her face. After she finished singing the carol I found out why:
“You walked away!”
“I went to see what Callum was doing,” I said, “but I was still listening.” It seems I spoilt Gemma-Rose’s big moment in front of the camera by not giving her my full attention.
So what have I learnt from this whole experience?
Older siblings can inspire younger ones. They can share their talents and help them if they do so in a sensitive way. But they have to know when to draw back out of the limelight, so as not to discourage.
Talent does not make someone a better person (or their mother a better homeschooling parent) but it does give them extra responsibilities. Talent needs to be handled in a loving and humble manner. (I have to say Imogen is good at doing this despite Gemma-Rose’s complaints on this particular evening.)
Everyone’s efforts are valuable, regardless of talent. The less talented have to be given a chance to perform as well.
And finally I need to warn Callum not to make a noise in the garage while I’m filming in the lounge room.
I could have posted another beautiful carol, sung by Imogen, to accompany this story. Instead I am choosing this time to post Sophie’s and Gemma-Rose’s version of Away in the Manger, complete with spare car part clangs, because…
Sometimes there are more important things than showing off talent. Always it is more important to show love.
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  1. Reply

    What beautiful singing girls! I can imagine the harmonies you could produce together in time and I think it's so wonderful that you all love to sing 🙂

    1. Reply


      I wish I could sing and join in! I guess someone has to be the audience, but yes, there is something very special about being able to make music together. I wonder if you have singers in your family too.

    2. Reply


      I can just imagine the beautiful sound you make singing with your family! You will be able to pass on your talents to your daughters.

    3. Reply

      I've always been a singer and had classical training as a teenager. The 3 girls love to sing, though we haven't really done anything formal. My oldest son has missed out on the talent for pitch, but he still gives it a good go in Mass 🙂

  2. Absolutely delightful! And how perfectly you put it, Sue: "Always it is more important to show love."

    You've all left me smiling, as usual! Thank you!

    I love the girls' flowery frocks in the main picture.

    1. Reply


      Talent can be very hard to handle. I've watched so many talented singers in action. It's a competitive world with lots of jostling for the best parts and biggest amount of applause. Our choir mistress is wonderful though and includes everyone however big or small their talent is. I think it can be good for those who shine the most, to step back every now and then and let others have a chance. Yes, it's an act of love. Anyway, that's what I'm trying to share with my girls!

      The flowery frocks… Those are the girls' new Christmas dresses. I sewed them a couple of days before Christmas. It was a bit stressful but I'm glad I made the effort because Sophie and Gemma-Rose were so pleased with the dresses.

      Thank you for watching the video. Gemma-Rose will be so pleased to hear you did!

    • Mary
    • December 30, 2013

    I never thought of that before! I never thought of what it would be like to be the youngest.
    I don't mean to be rude, but I was wondering if those were braces on one of your daughters. Sorry I just can't see them clearly!

    1. Reply


      Maybe you are an oldest child like me. I must admit it has only been in recent years I've considered what it must be like to be my younger sisters. I imagine I have been quite insufferable at times, always doing things first, thinking I am better than them because I am older, wanting to take first place… Maybe my own older children will be more humble and loving than I ever was. I hope so!

      Braces? You aren't rude at all! Yes, Sophie has braces. She got them a few weeks ago. Imogen and Charlotte have already had braces. Felicity had a partial brace, and I had a plate to move my front teeth. Probably Gemma-Rose will need braces too. We have been going to the orthodontist for the past 12 years!

      I haven't forgotten about the list of young people blogs. I will visit your blog very soon!

  3. Reply

    How lovely!! I'm catching up on blog reading….. it seems I've been away from actually sitting down and reading anything for awhile (not even a week, but it seems a long time!!). This may be my favorite Christmas carol, and I love how beautifully your girls sang it. A real treat!

    1. Reply


      Sometimes there are far more important things to do than blogging. I wasn't going to blog at all over Christmas but I did find myself writing in odd moments. I'm still catching up on my reading too.

      Thank you so much for watching my video. Your kind words will make Gemma-Rose's day, I'm sure!

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