I am the older sibling of three children, and growing up I took that role extremely seriously. Nothing, and I mean nothing was going down on my watch because I knew that I would be the fall guy. No way was I ever going to allow that to happen.
In my article, “Summertime,” I shared how my sister, who is the closest in age to me (nearly three years separates us), and I spent the entire summers with my paternal grandmother. She was a wonderful woman, but someone that you didn’t want to tick off. Trust me when I tell you, I never made it on her “bad” list (LOL!). During that time, she worked a few days a week, typically in the mornings. Since I was the oldest sibling, I was left “in charge”. When she told us not to answer the door, even if it was someone we knew, I took that literally. One of my uncles came by, and I told him that I couldn’t let him in. He wasn’t happy about it because he was a relative, but I had no intention of incurring her wrath. Another one of her rules was not to answer the phone unless it was her calling, and there was a special code that she used. All of these instructions were set in place for safety reasons, and I adhered to every one of them, and made sure that my sister did too. After all, I was the “boss” or so I thought. I was very familiar with all the do’s and don’ts, and even though I was 9 and my sister was 6, I didn’t play because I wasn’t going to be the one getting in trouble: a) for something I didn’t do, and b) because I allowed my sister to do things that I knew were wrong.
There was one incident wherein my sister was doing something she had no business doing (I can’t even remember what it was now); however, I’m sure it wasn’t that serious. I told her to stand in the corner on one foot for five minutes (keep in mind she was 6 and I was 9). She followed my orders, but told my grandmother when she got home. I didn’t get in trouble per se, but my grandmother let me know that in no uncertain terms was I her mother, and I shouldn’t have done that. There were other instances wherein, I took command of the situation with my sister. However, as she got older, she would tell me herself that, “I wasn’t her mother”. I guess that was the beginning of me wanting to be in “control of everything and everybody.” I had a very strong personality at a young age, and was an absolute CONTROL FREAK (I have been reformed, though, by this thing called life).
Then, came along my youngest sister who is 3 months shy of being 15 years younger than I am. I was definitely the “boss” of her. My mother would make me take her everywhere I went (against my many protests, of course) to keep me out of trouble. There were times that I didn’t mind, but then there were also times I resented it too because this wasn’t my child so why should she have been my responsibility, I questioned. The cool thing, though, is that when she was 5, she told me she wanted to be just like me (now she’s probably saying, I’m glad I’m not like her, LOL!). She would torment my sister who is the middle child, but was relatively a good listener when I told her to do something. One time, when she was around 5, she stole some candy from the store. I marched her back over there and made her return it. She was embarrassed but guess what? We never had that problem again. I loved her enough to teach her that’s not what we do — after all, she was my baby sis and I wanted her to do the right thing.
History kind of repeated itself with my three kids. I watched as my oldest daughter “attempted” to be the big sister. Unfortunately, her siblings weren’t having it. They had no desire to listen to her because she was smaller than they were (especially, my middle child). As I watched them grow up, I encouraged them to be supportive of each other. I told them at the end of the day, all they had were each other because friends come and go. They couldn’t understand it then, but I have watched my two daughters (who used to fight like cats and dogs, physically and verbally) form a bond — a sisterly bond. In fact, they now talk to each other regularly as they are building their own separate lives. All of my kids are now adults and managed to weather the storm of childhood without killing each other. Whew! It was certainly touch and go there for a minute. However, I’m sure most parents deal with the “She touched me, he looked at me, that’s mine, I’m not sharing,” “he hit me,” and calling for “mom” at least a million times a day to the point where you want to pack your things and run away from home. The cool thing, though, is there is nothing like a bond between siblings. I remember when my kids used to cover for each other; it was a code they didn’t break — no matter what. My youngest daughter would even take my son’s punishments for him (I would make him write like a million times, which he hated; she loved writing and their handwriting was similar enough that she did it for him). Now, that was either love or sheer craziness, LOL!
Now, onto the third generation of siblings — my 4-year-old granddaughter clearly thinks she’s the “boss” of her 5-month-old brother. The poor fella has no idea what she has in store for him, LOL! Recently, she put him in her doll stroller, strapped him in (she knows all about my safety rules), and pushed him around the apartment (don’t worry, he was safe). She thinks she should feed him all the time and make his bottles. She loves being the older sister and even changed his name to match her initials “JM” (is that smart or what).
Fast forward, one of my sisters and I are closer than we’ve been in years and I have to admit that it feels good to be able to “discuss” our adult issues, “laugh” about goofy things, and “reminisce” about the “good old days”.
If you haven’t spoken to your sibling or siblings in a while, give them a call, schedule an outing or drop them a line to let them know you’re thinking about them (this is something I need to do more often; life is short and family is important).