I became an older sister when I was just 13 months old.
This was obviously not my choice. Most of my teen years were spent wishing that Mom and Dad had decided to stop after one kid, but unfortunately for 14-year-old me they wanted three. Even though the three of us have had moments of hatred towards each other, I have always embraced my role as an older sibling.
At a young age, I became obsessed with my younger brother and sister. To me, they were living, breathing baby dolls, and I just couldn’t get enough of them. That didn’t change much as we got older. I became a sort of third parent to them, but being a sibling is so much more than that. I wasn’t just some figure of authority—I was their friend.
There are so many different situations that can go on throughout a child’s life that they may not feel comfortable talking to a parent about. This has nothing to do with the parents; there are just some things that a lot of kids may feel better talking about with someone closer to their own age who may have just recently had a similar problem. That’s where we, the older siblings, step in.
I had the answers to all of the questions my younger siblings needed as they grew up. I was the one they could talk to without them having to answer additional questions parents would usually ask. It’s a more comforting environment to talk to someone you’ve probably shared a room with your entire life. I never asked why they needed to know, and I would never pry information out of them that they obviously didn't want to share.
Because the three of us were only a few years apart, I also went to the same school as my younger siblings for most of K-12 career. I saw everything that was going on with them at school. Whether it was bullying, trouble with friends, or struggling with their schoolwork, I was always right there to do something to fix it. Most of the time, they didn’t even need to tell me about it. I could just step in and help.
In addition to watching out for them at school, I was also making sure they had a good home life. As the oldest, I set all of the precedents for things like bed time or curfew. I was the child that always stood up to Mom or Dad whenever something needed to be changed. I put up with the stupid rules until I couldn’t anymore, and I made sure my brother and sister wouldn’t have to suffer through them as well when they got to be my age. I made their lives so much easier when they got older. I may still start of a complaint with “When I was their age,” but I’m still so glad I could help them.
So becoming an older sister wasn’t my choice, but I’m so glad no one ever gave me the option to say no.
Being an older sibling was my first job, and I’ve learned so much because of it. It taught me patience, responsibility, people skills, compassion, and so much more that I’ve carried with me into the “real world.” Although I’ll probably act annoyed, I’ll be excited when they call me in 10 years to ask me how to do taxes or how to change a diaper.
I’m so proud of my siblings, and I’m glad I got to be someone to help them become the people they are today, even if I am still angry that my curfew was never as late as theirs is now.