I'm eleven years older than my little brother, and when he was born, my sister and I had no idea what we were in for. Having a sibling with such a large age gap is completely different than having one who's closer in age to you, and it can take some getting used to. Here are some of the things that nobody tells you about being way, way, way older than your sibling.
1. People think you're their mom...
One of the first times I was out walking with my brother a woman came up to me and asked if he was my son. I was pretty surprised — I was eleven! Since then I've gotten a lot of odd and disapproving stares when in public with him because they think I'm a teen mom. Nope, sorry, he's just my brother (but so what if he wasn't?).
2. ... and even though you're not, it sometimes feels like it
Dirty diapers, bottle feeding, bathing, babysitting...my sister and I helped our parents with all of it. We volunteer at school events and help him with his homework. It's exhausting but amazingly rewarding.
3. You watch a LOT of children's movies and TV shows and eventually grow to like them.
At this point, I consider myself to be an expert on "Paw Patrol," "Thomas the Tank Engine," and Disney's "Cars" franchise. I've seen "The Emoji Movie" and "Despicable Me" more times than I ever wanted to and wound up not hating them.
4. Your friends become completely obsessed with them
I like to joke that my brother has, like, ten older sisters, because all of my friends love him so much. They come to his baseball games and school dances and birthday parties, just like my sister and I do. It's really sweet, and everyone always has fun.
5. You often find yourself reliving your childhood
My brother has a lot of the same toys that my sister and I did, and he goes to the same elementary school. Even though it's been years, as I watch him learn to read and lose his teeth, it feels like I did that just yesterday. I was starting to apply to college when he was in kindergarten, so it was nice to be able to hold onto childhood for a little while longer.
6. Sometimes, you feel bad being a normal teenager
It always breaks my heart when I go out and my brother clings to my leg to ask me to stay and play with him, or when I can't watch a movie with him because I'm doing my homework. It takes a little while to learn how to balance family time and time for yourself.
7. You become a fierce protector
I'm a total "helicopter" sister. I worry about him constantly, and probably (definitely) baby him more than I should. But it's just because I want him to be safe, and if anyone ever hurt him, they would not want to cross me.
8. They'll make you beam with pride
Everything my brother does makes me incredibly proud. Made a drawing in art class? Awesome! Learned how to tie his shoes? Incredible! Hit the ball off the tee? Sports star! It's so amazing watching this tiny human grow up and do normal "people" things, and you'll tell everyone you know how proud you are.
My camera roll is also, like, 75% pictures of him.
9. You'll be there for the harder parts of growing up...
The terrible twos, teething, tantrums...you're there for it all. And it'll drive you crazy.
10. ... but you're there for the good stuff, too
You get to see them take their first steps, get on the bus for their first day of school, and you get to do the whole "Santa" thing all over again. It's fun to have a little kid around, because there's always a lot of fun stuff going on.
11. And, finally, you'll have a new best friend
The relationship between my brother and I is unique because it's that of a sibling, caretaker, and friend all in one. I let him do stuff that our parents wouldn't (like staying up late on a school night) but I also have to tell him to eat his vegetables. We have a lot of fun together but we also have stupid fights.
But at the end of the day, he'll always come and jump up on me and give me a hug, and we can always have a laugh together. With a sibling this much younger, you'll get a best friend.