Test 1, Day 3

England 458 and 119 for 1 (Cook 59*, Ballance 22*) lead South Africa 361 (Bavuma 59, Elgar 54, Philander 52, de Kock 51, Moeen 4-59) by 216 runs


The summer after I turned 16 I was grounded a lot. My grades were almost as bad as my attitude and I probably deserved every punishment I received. My parents knew they couldn’t keep me in the house, so my groundings usually simply involved not allowing me to use the car for weeks at a time.

In August such a grounding was under way while my mother, brother and step-father were on vacation, leaving just my sister and me in the house, with my sister in charge. On the Saturday before they were to arrive back home, I took the car against their wishes and drove to the record store. I was gone maybe an hour. My sister told my parents that I had taken the car when they returned, and I was grounded from the car for a further two weeks. I denied every having done so with all my effort but it was no use. Another two weeks it was.

I was livid with my sister. How could she tell on me like that? Betray the sibling trust? Why did she care if I used the car or not?

Years later I was in college and had brought a girlfriend home with me and we all had a family dinner at my parents house. My sister was there with her son, but her husband was not there. Over the course of the meal the subject of the grounding that summer came up — I joked about my sister telling my parents I had taken the car and how mad I was and everyone laughed. Everyone but my sister.

After dinner I saw my sister in the family room by herself, obviously not doing so well. I left my girlfriend in the kitchen with an old photo album to browse through and went to check on my sister. She was crying. It had been a hard few years and it was all down to her need for everything and everyone to be perfect. It’s why she had told on me that summer, it’s why her marriage had hit a rough spot, it’s why her whole life had gone in an unfavorable direction. She didn’t like the person who had told on her younger brother, and she was still that person.

She told me that she wanted to learn how to relax, that she was setting new career goals for herself and would achieve them no matter how long it took. And that all she wanted in the end was to be a good mother and to be happy in her life.

And that’s what she did. She got out of her unhappy marriage, she raised a wonderful young man, she stopped worrying what everyone thought and lived her life the best way she knew how to. And she was happy. Is still happy. Sometimes all it takes is to stop shouldering the entire world’s problems, to just relax, and take it all one moment at a time. That’s probably the best lesson my sister ever taught me.

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