When I was 15 years old, my parents announced that they were having another baby. It had been 12 years since my youngest sister was born, and I thought she would forever be my littlest sister.
But on October 25th, 2016, everything changed.
They named her Shandíín ( Shawn-Dean ), which means sunshine in Navajo. And she has perfectly lived up to her name.
She sees the world from a completely different lense, everything is new and exciting. And though we are 16 years apart, she has taught me to see the world differently too.
She finds the little things exhilarating - like ice cream on a hot summer day or playing her favorite song on repeat.
She enjoys learning and is constantly challenging herself to understand the world around her. Her favorite hobby is asking questions, and my favorite hobby is answering them.
She teaches my whole family to be the best versions of ourselves. In my household, we only use “kind words” because if you don’t, you’ll hear a three-year-old coming running up to you with her famous “we don’t say that word.” And she’ll remind you that the best words to use are “I love you” and “thank you.”
She loves to be a part of the conversation and makes sure she is heard. At dinner, she interjects with her colorful stories and she makes sure everyone goes around the table to “tell her about their day.”
She is the best at including people and makes sure we all know that everyone in our family is her “favorite.”
And in light of everything going on in the world, when I asked her if she understood that we loved people no matter what they looked like or how different they were from us, she said, “I love everyone, everyone is my friend no matter what.”
And it’s all these moments that make me a proud sister.
It’s all these moments that make me want to be the best person I can be, for her.
It’s all these moments that make me hope for a better world for her to embrace when she’s all grown up. It’s all these moments that encourage me to be a kinder, more thoughtful, more educated, and more giving person.
And I think everyone could learn something from the younger generation. They are the future we are building a world for, and they are looking up to us to make the world better for them.