Learning from Brothers Jekyll and Hyde

March 21, 2024
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Guest Author

Guest Post by Gabriel Morse

Meet the Brothers – Jekyll and Hyde

When my brother and I were younger, I was “obviously” the good child; and since I’m the one telling the story – he was always the “jokester,” “troublemaker,” and “rebel.” I was extremely quiet and didn’t rock the boat while he had a reputation for causing class interruptions or doing crazy things to make everyone laugh behind the teacher’s back.  I was the rule follower. He wasn’t the rule breaker, but the rule crusher.  It sounds like my brother was bad and I was really good, right?

Yeah, not so much! Actually, not at all, truth be told. In reality, my younger brother was way off-the-charts smart. He was smart enough that I was always jealous of the ease with which he faced any schoolwork or test. Little twerp never had to study to get good grades. (I’m still mad about that.) He could easily rattle off those long memorized lists of facts or dates. Any chance I got, I’d tell him he was “too smart for his britches.” That mere statement always incited trouble, but we’ll leave those specifics to the dustbin of family history and your imagination.

He was bored with school, and I was desperate to survive it. He could rattle through whatever you gave him but he couldn’t have cared less about what it meant because it didn’t seem to affect his future plans of being an athlete. I didn’t understand school because my brain required the “Why” to be answered in a way I could see it before I could grasp the “What” or “How.”

Once I finally gained the magic of reading, I learned more that I would eventually use from reading about scientists, explorers, adventurers, and leaders than I ever had from being planted in front of rote lists that encapsulated their life’s work. Then, I went home and drove my parents nuts for long hours every night trying to figure out my homework or prep for a test. When I had accomplished making someone truly frustrated, my brother always seemed to be around to do something that would make me laugh at the most inappropriate times.

Speaking a Foreign Language

For all those years, the faster and more intensely teachers pushed us, the faster my brother would simply parrot whatever it was and go back to his tomfoolery, and the faster I got lost and frustrated. For those of you who have tried engaging someone in a foreign languageCelebrating Differences in Brothers without an interpreter, you know that speaking faster, louder, and with more aggressive hand motions does not help.

Schooling was a foreign language to me. So, while my brother was busy driving his teachers to distraction with his lackadaisical brilliance, I made them lose their minds because I wasn’t grasping basic concepts, and asked everything six different ways trying to figure it out. Most teachers hate that because they don’t have the time and become increasingly impatient.

At the time I thought there were no two other students like my brother and me anywhere. I’m much older and hopefully wiser now, which is why I think this topic is important. Believe me, telling you about my struggles as a child is far harder for me to repeat than it is for you to hear. I don’t write about any of this lightly, but some of you need to hear what I have to say.

As I just reminded my college-age daughter, the lessons you struggle through the hardest often bring us the greatest harvest if we know how to reap it correctly. That principle has proven true over and over in my own life, and I hope that showing you those old scars will keep some of you from unnecessarily mentally and emotionally burning your own fingers.

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The Necessity of Both Jekyll and Hyde

Now as an adult, my brother works in a career that requires him to quickly retain information and make fast, confident decisions on many facts and numbers that constantly change. People rely on him to make a perfect decision amid that controlled chaos, every single time, and when anything is less than perfect they can get pretty angry. His innate need for constant challenge and his sense of humor in dealing with that level of expectations were honed as a photographic mimic in the classroom. Honestly, I wouldn’t survive one hour doing what he does so well.

Most of my career on the other hand required me to travel and to work long or erratic hours to get my work done; often working through the night to see the “Why” hidden behind all of the “What, When, Where” data that people hide behind. My job required the ability to see things in a way that no one else was even looking for because they didn’t even know to look or HOW to look.

I dealt with things that were days, months, and years in the making. I never had scientific rules, mathematical principles, or extensive lists to refer back to, and there was nothing to memorize, but there was a lot of information to remember. I had to learn what made people tick, and what made them different… as well as what made them important to everyone else far beyond the mere face value that the rest of the world saw. That meant I had to record and/or write things down and play with bits and pieces of seemingly insignificant information like a puzzle.

To be successful, I had to ask a question six different ways to figure out how someone who had faced some type of challenge used what they had learned to significantly impact other people’s lives. Often, they couldn’t tell me what that was, themselves. Once my questions were answered, I presented that new perception of how to see things to my readers in such an interesting way that they wanted to and could understand the value of whoever and whatever I was writing about.

A Unique Design

Even today, that habit sticks with me. When work, chores, and family are put to bed, I sit down to start thinking, writing, and crafting how to show others something they need to see for the first time or differently. If I need a break from dealing with the faint cobwebs in which concepts and ideas can disguise themselves, I call my little brother. He’s always able to make sense of the long lists of data that spin in front of my eyes, and he does it in such a way that I can’t help but laugh loud enough to disturb everyone else in the house. Through most of our adult life now, his approach to life and capabilities have helped me more than he probably knows.

If you have seen an old clock, you will know that it requires many gears of many different sizes and speeds to do its job and remain effective. The same is true of people. There are many types of learners and personalities, and each has its place in this life. God designs each of us uniquely. Some people are fast or can memorize easily. Some work slower, deeper, or in environments that aren’t laid out in straight, regular lines.

All have their place and work best when they are used how they are designed rather than in a one-size-fits-all box. So, on those days when you wonder if what you are doing is worth it, be encouraged. Both you and your children are designed in your own unique way and have a purpose. Some gifts and lessons take longer to discern. Discover what it is. Learn from it. Then, see where God will take it.


More About the Author:

Homeschool Volunteer Writer Gabriel is a former homeschooled missionary kid and homeschooling father who adores his wife, children, and grandchildren. He is currently rebuilding a 130-year-old homestead, writing a historical fiction book on character for young people, and mentoring young men. He is a former U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondent, Army National Guard Photographer, and U.S. Army Deputy Public Affairs representative and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. He lived in Central America during Junior High and served on military short and long-term assignments across the U.S. and in half a dozen countries, including Iraq during his military career. Besides his deep faith and his family, his passion is writing and developing young men into capable steward leaders.