Everything I ever needed to know, I learned from my sister.
I have just one sister. A "little" sister. She is two years and five days younger than me. When we were girls, it felt like a big gap. Eons of time separated us.
She was always the little sister; I was the big one. She was expected to learn things from me. What I didn't realize at the time was that I was learning just as much from her.
Growing up and growing into adulthood, my sister has taught me many life lessons worth noting. Some of them are:
• Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. When the tar gets too hot on a summer day and you are barefoot, get someone who is bigger to carry you across the road.
• Two people can easily fit on a banana seat bike; it's the front person's job to steer and pedal. The person in the back just has to hang on tight. Your pet poodle fits just right in the front bike basket.
• Sharing is not optional; it is mandatory. Throughout life we will be called upon to share time, toys, parents, love, resources, joy, sorrow and clothes.
• Don't worry too much about what other people think. You don't have to sing on key to enjoy karaoke.
• Family is family. You don't get to choose them, and they don't get to choose you. But at the end of the day, sometimes they are all you've got. Often, they are the best you've got, and you are lucky for that.
• Grow a garden even if you have to do it in pots versus plots. Get your hands dirty. Pick the flowers and bring them inside so everyone can enjoy them. Grow vegetables you can eat. Make salsa. Nurturing growing things nurtures your life.
• Grow a family. Even though she was the little sister, she started her family years before I did mine. Through her I saw the magic of motherhood - the wonder and splendor of raising and loving a batchful of boys.
• Tell people how you really feel. Be honest, but not mean. Be strong, but not callous. Trust your opinion, but listen. Be confident, but not cocky.
• You're never too old to enjoy a good giggle. Do it well and do it often. Laugh at life and at yourself and all the inside jokes you've established with your sister over the years.
• Stand up for what you believe in. Question authority if you have good reason to do so.
• Pets are important and valued members of the family. Love them accordingly and make room for them on the couch.
• Never quit learning. Pick your interests and make them good ones. Nothing is off limits. Make Jell-O and make lotion. Try everything in between. Share your newfound knowledge with others and especially your sister.
• Don't be cookie cutter. Strive always to be your own unique self. Don't follow the crowd unless the crowd is headed to a party or the beach, or in the ideal circumstances both.
You can't pick your sister, but you can pick your friends. And in the best case scenario, a sister is a little of both. I'm thankful for mine.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.