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Comparisons just went global

Forget siblings and friends, the ideal has gone up several notches after Time Magazine’s Kid of the Year choice.

Do your folks compare you to your friends and siblings? It’s never obvious like “Oh, V is better than you at the piano.” It’s always subtle like “Oh wow! Look at V. See how much he practises his piano? So sincere! Not a single parody song either.” (What’s the point of learning an instrument if I can’t accompany myself singing “It’s raining tacos?”) Or something like “Look how much T loves her mother. She made her breakfast in bed for Mothers’ Day.” Or “Did you know P read 200 books this year? And not one of them was a graphic novel?”

Well, I’m kind of used to it by now. You know the ancient Chinese proverb, “In through one ear, out through the other”? That’s me. Or, as Aristotle used to say, “Water off a duck’s back”. I’m kind of immune to these comments now, though I’d rather be immune to COVID-19.

Going global

Anyway, it’s one thing for your parents to compare you to the kid in VII B who won the Math Olympiad, and another entirely to some kid a million miles away in the U.S.

That’s right, comparing your kids just went global.

So, in November, Time Magazine tied up with Nickelodeon to name the ‘Kid of the Year’. If you didn’t know, every year, Time puts a ‘Person of the Year’ on the cover: Mark Zuckerberg, Hitler, Greta Thunberg — people who had done something amazing or terrible, whose actions couldn’t be ignored, who made the news for better or worse.

Well, this year, they started a Kid of the Year. (Why Nickelodeon? Why? You’re meant to be on our side!) And they chose 15-year-old Gitanjali Rao from Colorado, the U.S. Gitanjali invented a mobile device that could test for lead in drinking water. She’s also developed a phone-and-web tool named Kindly, which uses artificial intelligence to alert kids to early signs of cyberbullying.

She was also on Forbes 30 Under 30 list and was named America’s Top Young Scientist when she was in the seventh grade. I’m also in seventh grade and the coolest science thing I’ve ever done is not blow up the chemistry lab in school. That’s what my mother pointed out to me anyway, when she sent me the link to the story about Gitanjali. Mothers can be so harsh.

But, it’s kind of amazing when you think just how much Gitanjali has done. It also makes me look at what I’ve done — which is not a lot, let’s be honest. I have taught W the dog to eat my lunch when we’re having karela. If you’ve ever tasted karela, you’ll appreciate that feat.

I can’t help but wonder if Gitanjali has a younger sibling. Poor kid, it can’t be easy having a genius for a sister. When I think about it, being not-a-genius is a favour I’m doing the Pesky Brother. Time, if you do a ‘Sibling of the Year award,’ you’ve got to give it to me.

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