being a sister can be hard work sometimes



noun: hindsight
  1. understanding of a situation or event only after it has happened or developed.
    with hindsight, I should never have gone”

Hindsight is useful. I can use hindsight to help myself make certain decisions, i.e. learning from my mistakes. Disclaimer: this does not always make the decisions easier.

I came to Cumbria to visit my family this weekend. It has been lovely. This time, I didn’t spend all my time seeing my friends that live here, I didn’t go out in the evenings. Weekends are far too short, especially as this semester I am in uni all day on a Friday. I travel back to Bolton this evening.

My brother Ewan is sitting his GCSEs in the summer. He is very stressed about them, especially English. That is similar to how I was when I took them. I remember getting my first ever C in an exam at 16, in English Language. Luckily, in taking the exam in January, I could resit it in the summer. When I did, I got an A.

With Ewan, these exams are affecting his mood drastically, amongst other personal problems. He is more low than I have ever seen him. Luckily, our mum and dad know and are assisting him in finding help. He has had a couple of doctors appointments already. In time hopefully they will help him and he will recover. Unfortunately, one of the symptoms of depression is lack of motivation and drive to do work. This is bad news for his potential exam grades.

Earlier today, he was doing his homework at the kitchen table. A science past paper. He is good at science. He had his laptop open next to him, and I realised he had the mark scheme displayed. He was cheating, by copying the answers down that he hadn’t been able to get. As I have gone through 2 sets of big exams before, I had also done this previously. However, I know that it is no way to retain the knowledge and learn, as my grades suffered when trying to learn like this. His teachers will also not be aware of the fact that he will need help with these questions. They will think he knows what he is doing. He is very bright, and answers questions in class. They will not think twice about him struggling. This worries me. I tried to help him answer a question that he did not get. He rejected my help, saying he didn’t have enough time to finish the paper let alone listen to me trying to help him.

I know that this is the wrong way for him to think. But what can I do about it? The longer I stand there telling him off for not doing his homework properly, the less he is likely to accept my help. The less motivated he will feel to complete his homework. It is so hard trying to give advice to others when you know you are right and they are wrong, when they don’t understand and they don’t see your reasoning. It is very difficult, when I care a lot about him, to let him struggle on his own. Is it worth me risking him getting lower grades just to teach him that in life he must make his own decisions and mistakes?


Yes, it is. This is what I must do.

Our mistakes are what make us human. They shape our personality. They are what differentiate our lives. In letting Ewan make his own decisions, I am letting him keep hold of his freedom to live.

In hindsight, he may wish he listened to me. But if I forced him to listen to me, I would regret it for a long time.

Life is too short to live in the past. To constantly look back in hindsight. We are not meant to be perfect.

We’re only human, after all.


While I was typing this, I was listening to Rag’n’Bone Man: Human (the album).

Photo: courtesy of Andy Haycock
Subject: my brother, Ewan, on the bank of the Thames, April 2016

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