Students struggle with large sibling age gap

December 4, 2016 — by Esha Lakhotia and Muthu Palaniappan

story about people with large age gaps between siblings. 

Sophomore Shivani Agrawal was only in third grade when her older sister, Class of 2005 alumna Shveta, left for college at University of Southern California (USC).

Agrawal has an unusually large age gap of 10 years between her and her older sister and a six-year gap between her and her older brother. With so many years separating them, Agrawal hasn’t experienced having a sibling the way most people do.

“I feel like I am kind of distant from my sister because we have lived apart for so long, but whenever we hangout I feel like we can always relate,” Agrawal said.

Though living apart for most of their lives, Agrawal and her sister still share memories and similar interests. The two bond over TV shows such as “Friends” or “Gossip Girl” while catching up with each other.

Agrawal’s sister lives in Los Angeles with her husband and her 10-month-old daughter.

“Once every one or two months I go and visit my sister and her family,” Agrawal said. “It’s always really great seeing her because I feel like I never get to spend much time with her.”

At other times, she still stays in touch over Facebook and Instagram. Agrawal often talks to her sister about problems she faces in school or at home.

When Agrawal was in sixth grade, she had a hard time since she was at a new school with new people. However, acting like a mother and best friend at the same time, her older sister gave her advice from when she was her age, relieving Agrawal’s worries.

In addition to an older sister, Shivani's brother and Class of 2013 alumnus Shauray studies at University of California, Berkeley.

Agrawal agrees that her relationship with her brother is a bit more ordinary because they have lived with each other longer.

Because both of her siblings went to college before she could go to high school, one of the fondest memories Agrawal has with her two siblings is a family trip to Cancun, Mexico.

“During the trip I had to sleep in the same bed as both of my siblings,” Agrawal said. “They would go to sleep at 12, they would wake me up and I would hit them with pillows for annoying me, but we would end up talking for hours in the night and it turned out to be one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever had,” Agrawal said.

On the other hand, senior Kelsey Kinoshita, the oldest of three, has a sister Olivia, who is 12, and a brother Cole, who is 6.

Kinoshita takes on the responsibility of caring for her younger brother since she can give him accurate advice about school, activities and life.

“I feel like I’m more parental with my younger brother compared to my sister,” Kinoshita said. “It’s really interesting to watch him grow up and experience everything that I have been through.”

Because of the age gap, Kinoshita gets to experience milestones in her brother’s life. In the past month, Kinoshita’s younger brother Cole read a book to her for the first time.

“He’s 5 and in kindergarten, so he’s definitely starting to grow up, but it was still weird to have him read me a book because in my mind, he’s still so little,” Kinoshita said.

At the same time, Kinoshita sees the negatives of a large age gap.

“Although I’ll always be proud of him, I feel sad since I’m going to be going to college next year while he’s going to be going to first grade, and I won’t be there all the time to watch him grow and help him through school,” Kinoshita said.

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