Tuesday, November 27, 2012

College Essay

Helping students with college essays always reminds me of mine.  I joke that my father and I almost "got divorced" over my essay--he kept challenging me to be more authentic, and I kept stomping off in frustration.  But I remember that when I handed him this one, he told me I finally got it right.  Twenty-four years ago!  How I still adore the people featured here, not so little anymore: 

If you knock on the front door of 310 D Avenue you'll hear a thunder of little feet stampeding to answer it.  Finally you'll see breathless, expectant faces greeting you, and before you have a chance to speak, they'll show you a new pair of high tops, a hole in a smile where a tooth used to be, or hand you a scruffy-looking hamster to hold.  These little people are my brothers and sisters, an important part of my family and my life.  In this family of seven, I am the "big sister," sometimes babysitter (sometimes bossy), usually friend and leader.

My family is large by Southern California standards, and my parents have been careful not to let us fit the mold of many of the families around us (divorced parents, self-involvement rather than family unity).  For this reason we regularly hold "Family Meetings," where the topics of discussion range anywhere from where the next family vacation will be to how to deal with a chronically empty cookie jar. 

The role I play in my family is important.  I share a bedroom with my ten-year-old sister, an experience that has taught me patience, compromise, and the lyrics to hit songs by Tiffany.  My sister is often the first person to notice when I am depressed, and cheers me up with a hug and kiss and "I love you."

There is nothing like being on the sidelines of the soccer field watching your seven-year-old brother score the winning goal, only months later during high school soccer season to hear a little voice piping, "Go Fer!" when you are out there yourself.  More than once I've felt a surge of embarrassment as guys at my front door are greeted with, "My sister wants to marry you," or "Are you going to kiss her tonight?"

Since my fifteen-year-old brother and I go to the same high school our relationship has grown stronger.  I watch him struggle with the same conflicts I had and find myself wanting to protect him.  When I ran for Student Body President last year, he campaigned relentlessly for me, wearing "Fer for President" tee shirts and badgering his friends until they were at the booth casting their votes. 

Some Friday and Saturday nights I am at home babysitting while my friends are out.  But the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus who have disappeared from other homes are still alive in mine.  Taking my brothers and sisters to the matinee performance of Bambi and clutching sweaty palms during the "scary part" leads me to believe my friends are the ones missing out. 

My family has made me whom I am today:  a leader, confidante, and good friend.  When I am at college, I will miss my family most, especially the seemingly insignificant things like dinnertime, crayon drawings on the refrigerator, and the scuffle of pajamaed feet on the sidewalk as my little sister runs out to kiss me goodbye when I leave for school.  I will be spending the next months preparing to leave, as they prepare to let me go. 

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