You’ve settled into a routine without her. You’ve grown used to her absence, having leftovers from dinner and not having to share your bathroom with another person.
But now she’s back.
She’s not overjoyed to be home, as one of her limited college years has ended prematurely due to COVID-19. She misses her friends, her classes, her campus half a country away from home.
Many college campuses have shut down due to coronavirus concerns, moving classes online. If your sibling is home earlier than you expected, both your routines may be thrown off. Below are five pieces of advice on how to deal with your sibling’s return.
1. Return her things.
When she was still at school, maybe you nicked a dress, a headband or even a book from her room. Whatever it is, you thought you had another two months to put it back, but now she’s screaming bloody murder about the sweater she can’t find.
Analyze how much time you have before she storms down the stairs and throttles you. Is your computer nearby? Good. Plug in your earbuds and pretend to be in a Zoom meeting with your class to avoid a fight that would put both of you in a bad mood. Later, when she’s not around, sneak into her room to return what you stole. Exercise caution: if you put it in an obvious place, she’ll get suspicious. Try the back of her dresser or the floor of her closet — somewhere she would have easily overlooked.
2. Cater to her interests.
Now that she’s in college, your life doesn’t seem to matter to her. If she shuts you down with an “I don’t care” every time you talk about something that happened during E-learning or with your friends, grab her attention with something she’d be interested in. Her old gym teacher had another baby! That club she used to be a part of really went downhill once she left! Once she’s listening, segway into your own affairs. You do, after all, love having an older sibling to talk to.
3. Plot your revenge or swallow your pride.
Your sibling doesn’t care that she ate those special granola bars you started eating while she was at college, or that she drank the tea you specifically bought for yourself. If you’re truly set on revenge, exact it in a subtle way that will quell your anger without provoking her. Use the baking skills you’ve acquired from being stuck in quarantine for a month to make something you know she’ll hate. If she hates coffee, make tiramisu or mocha ice cream. If it’s cauliflower, try a health-food dessert with cauliflower as its main ingredient.
Otherwise, simply take a breath and let it go. What’s the harm in sharing a few granola bars?
4. Ask to meet her friends.
When she’s constantly on FaceTime with all of her friends from college, it can be difficult to keep your cool and not shout “shut up!” (along with a series of profanities). Try to understand how hard it must be to be away from the people who have kept her sane for months at school, people she thought she’d be spending two more months with.
If you ask politely enough, she may let you in on one of her calls for a brief moment. It may help to put faces to the disembodied voices she laughs with at 2 a.m. to realize you’d probably talk constantly with them too.
5. Appreciate the time you have.
Eventually, your sibling will be back at college, and you’ll be missing her. Over everything she does to annoy you, appreciate the time you have together at home. Watch that Netflix show you both love together, work on a paint-by-the-numbers project with each other, do homework at the same table. Ask her to tell you stories from college and give you advice. Amid all the chaos surrounding COVID-19, find something to be grateful for: it has given you back your sibling.