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An introduction to the most important people in my life

| Friday, November 19, 2021

During the awkward first week of classes when every professor forces students to share a random fact about themselves, I’m always prepared to share the same fact about myself:

I’m 20 years older than my youngest sibling.

Oftentimes, the entire class gasps and asks me all about my 7-month-old baby sister. My classmates are equally surprised by the fact that I have not just one younger sibling, but five. And they’re the most important people in my life. 

So, instead of writing about me, I’m going to write about everything I’ve learned from my siblings, even the youngest. 

Manuel (16 years old)

My little brother Manuel is only four years younger than me. Manuel is endlessly hilarious, but the quiet type of funny. He’s the type to whisper a pun in your ear during a time that’s meant to be serious and look at you with a straight face as you hold back your giggles.

One of my favorite things about him, besides his humor, is that he has never been afraid of being different. Being the oldest, I often found myself caring too much about what people thought of me while growing up. I secretly always envied Manuel’s carelessness when it came to people’s opinions, and sometimes I still do. 

As my oldest-younger sibling, Manuel also taught me how to be an older sister, and his confidence in himself taught me that it’s okay to just be myself instead of trying to impress others by being someone I’m not. 

Valentina (9 years old) 

Valentina has a heart of gold. She’s the one that I’ll always be able to count on. 

Without a second thought, Valentina would give anything to help those in need. She will always help someone when they’re hurt and cry when an animal is sick in a movie. She is sensitive, thoughtful, compassionate and understanding. Valentina has given hand-made birthday cards to all of our family and friends since she was old enough to hold a crayon. 

She is the type to hug you when you’re crying and hold your hand when you’re scared. 

Valentina has taught me the importance of being kind and always giving people the benefit of the doubt. She has taught me how to be a good friend, and she is the sister I wish I could be.

Markus (7 years old) 

Markus was born with blonde hair and blue eyes and was the first one of my siblings to look like me, since both Valentina and Manuel have brown eyes and dark brown hair. As he got older, Mark’s eyes started to turn a gray-ish green and his cheeks got chubbier — he started to look even more like me.

Now, Markus has a giggle that can light up a room. He laughs at everything. When he hears something funny (or just outright gross), he tilts his head back, squints his eyes and lets out a loud, contagious belly-laugh guaranteed to turn any bad day into a good one. 

Like Valentina, Mark is always there for people when they’re sad, but instead of hugging them, he makes it his mission to get them to let out a laugh. 

Mark has taught me not to take life too seriously. He has shown me how to see the humor in everything, and the importance of always trying to have fun. 

Cruz (2 years old)

Cruz was born just one week before I left for college, so it took us a little bit longer to get to know each other.

He has been feisty since day one. He’s the type to say “no” whenever he doesn’t want to do something and squirm away when you try to pick him up. He’s always on the move.

Cruz is the one who will throw a plate of food on the floor for the dog if it features a vegetable he doesn’t like, or turn a sippy cup upside down just to see how much of a mess he can make before someone catches him and his attitude is a symptom of more than just the terrible twos. 

Like Manuel, Cruz is confident, but in a fight-for-what-he-wants type of way. He knows what he wants when he wants it, and does everything he can to get it. Cruz has taught me how to stand up for myself, and work hard for what I know I deserve. 

Noelia (7-months old) 

At just 7-months old, Noelia already has a huge personality. She’s a smiler, a cuddler, and a lover. But she doesn’t like me. 

Noelia gets confused when I’m home, like I’m a stranger invading her space. Noelia typically cries and reaches for our mom when I hold her, since she has a hard time recognizing me when I come home from school. I still try, hoping that maybe this time she’ll remember me. 

So far, it hasn’t happened yet, but I’ll keep trying. One day, Noelia will know me as well as I know her. 

Despite our differences, Noelia has still taught me a remarkable lesson. She’s taught me about the purest form of love: a love that expects nothing in return.

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About Veronica Navarro

Veronica Navarro is a junior at Notre Dame from South Bend, IN currently serving as The Observer's Social Media Editor. Navarro is also a member of the Notre Dame Mock Trial team and a resident of Flaherty Hall.

Contact Veronica