My nephew Gabriel will have a new little brother or sister in May. Then he will officially be the oldest child and assume a whole new realm of duties, experiences, and viewpoints. As a first born child and his godmother, I write this post for his benefit.
Being the oldest child means….
– Yelling a little louder to focus people’s attention on you. This is part of the reason why Aunt Mel has a loud voice today.
– Parents expecting you to take responsibility for anything that goes wrong involving you and your siblings. After all, you are the one old enough to know better.
– Being a trailblazer. You are the first child to do new things, and your parents will likely react with firm black and white decisions. Since they will allow little wiggle room, you will develop your negotiation, persuasion, and timing skills. It’s not surprising to find many first borns to be successful leaders.
– Accepting the blame for anything crazy that comes out of your younger sibling’s mouth. Ask your mom about the time she asked someone to “pass the damn mashed potatoes” when sitting around the dining room table at Grandpa Fosaaen’s house. When Granny asked her where she learned it, her little pointer finger went directly to Aunt Mel. I know I didn’t teach her to say that! But my defensiveness was interpreted as guilt. Game over. Just suck it up and put your energy into the battles you can win.
– Having a tendency to be a bit bossy. You will start to take charge of your younger brother or sister without even realizing what you are doing. Since your parents deem you to be ultimately responsible for anything they do when you are around, it makes sense to try to take control to avoid any mishaps. Just take it easy with the instructions. You don’t want your younger siblings to dread being around you.
– Wondering how your parents could possibly be so laid back when your younger sibling gets older and you have left home. Your curfew may be 10:00 p.m., but your youngest sibling’s curfew is sure to be at least midnight…on weeknights. Just chalk this one up to a character builder.
– Being a role model for the younger ones. Even if your younger siblings seem to not care about you, they are watching every move you make. No need to be perfect – just keep in mind they are assessing whether they want to be like you or not.
– Learning from a younger brother or sister. Your mom and Uncle Mitch teach me things all the time. They may not know it, but I learn more from them than they learn from me, hands down. You may be the oldest, but you will never know it all.
– Being protective – a la Momma Grizzly Sarah Palin – of your younger siblings. Even though they will drive you nuts a lot of the time, you will love them more than you realize.
– Realizing you are awesome. More than 1/2 of our U.S. Presidents have been first born children. Twenty-one of the 23 first astronauts were first born children. Two thirds of entrepreneurs are also first borns. And we are in the company of Oprah, J.K. Rowling, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Walter Cronkite. Not too shabby.