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How you act can influence those you love

| Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"I like salad."

I stared at my 10-year-old sister. Since when does she eat -- and enjoy -- salad•

"I do. I see you or mom or somebody eat it when we go out sometimes and I want to get it but don't know what to order exactly."

Then it became clear to me. She likes it because I like it.

This has been happening a lot recently. I've been noticing changes in both of my younger sisters' likes and dislikes, and all of these changes are more and more what I would do, say or like. I have a mini-me, in a way.

And I will admit. It can be irritating to be copied. Can't you just order what you like? I think sometimes. Why must you wait to see what I want?

My opinion has all of a sudden mattered greatly in my little sisters' lives.

The question, "How do you like what I'm wearing?" is asked quite frequently. How honest should I be to my little sister who just wants to dress like me•

Other popular questions I'm asked usually begin with "Can you...?" There are times I want to respond back with "Can you... just leave me alone?"

I think the feelings I'm expressing here are felt by all older siblings ... or at least most of them. We are watched and followed by our own "mini-mes" and for the most part, find it annoying to always have someone doing the same thing we are. But when I think about it, it's kind of cute.

I have a little sister who looks up to me in such a way that she'll give up chicken fingers for a salad at Applebee's. It's nice to know you have someone who values your opinion, who wants to be just like you, who thinks so highly of you.

On the flip side, I have to always be watching what I do, because every little thing could be copied. If I complain, she complains. If I have a bad attitude, so does she. The language I use will be the language she does. I'm setting standards here! It's not only the taste buds that she alters to be more like mine. It's everything. ... I don't want my little sisters thinking some things are okay. But if I demonstrate that certain things are tolerable they will most definitely follow in that way.

Having followers really pushes me to be a better person. Recently, I've had to pay more attention to the things I'm modeling for them. And yes, sometimes it seems an annoying curse to have little copy-cats. But I know how it is to look up to somebody. And when they accept, help and are nice to you, it makes your world!

So I'm going to do my best to do my part as an older sister. I should start now and go finish my homework on time ...

Nicole Paladin, of North Versailles, is a 16-year-old, home-schooled junior.

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