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Archive for January 27, 2013

rivalries (sunday setup 1/27/13)

< by Jill >

I crouched at the top of the staircase and pressed my ear between the balusters. On the floor below, my mom and her friend spoke in the low, cautious tone that applies to grave matters and gossip. Echoes mottled their voices.

” … and, you know, her teacher loves her …”

” … she did great in the track meet … ”

” … well I guess no two kids are alike … ”

Eventually, I discerned the topic of conversation: me and my big sister Ann. My mom mostly uh-huhed and yeahed, folding napkins as her friend stacked up Ann’s accomplishments and measured them against mine. Ann ranked top in her class; I flunked the high-potential test. Ann excelled at sports; I huffed and puffed through the mile run. With all merits tallied, the friend declared, “Well, Jill’s good at art at least.”

It was a defining moment in my development. I was too young to know that I had an intrinsic skill set of equal value, so I floated through most of my schooling half-trying just because I felt like I’d never stack up. I eventually realized my value, thanks to the attention and encouragement of my parents, but not before years of sibling rivalry — years when I fought to assert my strengths.

This reminds me of another sibling rivalry: that of John and Jim Harbaugh, both NFL coaches. Separated by fewer than two years — just like me and Ann — the Harbaugh brothers have always vied for the spotlight. After a lifetime of competing in various arenas, they’ll face off next Sunday in Super Bowl XLVII.

When the game clock expires, we’ll know which brother is the greatest football coach in the world. And I’ll assume the loser is better at art.

[For more stories about rivalries, check back each day this week!]