The divine secrets of the big bad sisterhood.

If you’re an oldest sister/brother, or oldest by proxy due to the biological oldest not being up to task for whatever reason, then you’re aware that what you do should be classified as an art form. I truly believe my responsibilities as an older sister prepared me for being a director. Not to mention the responsibilities of third parenthood, but that’s a whole other pile o’ problems, and that’s best left to therapy. Not for this post.

Being the oldest is not something that’s chosen, it’s something that’s chosen for you. You’re living the cushy life of Only Childom. Everything you do is cute, no matter how destructive. The time to let out your inner arsonist? It’s now. There will never be a brighter time than this. Possibly literally.

Of course, I did not know this at the time, because I was living out my first four years in this state of bliss. I had no concept of what was to come.

Then Mommy had a baby in her belly, and it all went downhill from there.

I can’t say I really remember what it was like when they brought E home from the hospital, but I do remember vaugely how tiny she was. In later years, this would make her perfect for storing in large boxes (space ships) to play, so I could watch Darkwing Duck in peace.

E and I got along well those first few years in spite of her incessant crying and my consistent efforts to pack her. And in spite of those aforemention efforts, I was already getting fiercely protective, driven by the Tao of Big Sisterhood: “She’s too small to take care of herself, you have to make sure nothing happens to her!”.

At the time, though, it sounded more like: “PROTECT THE PRINCESS OR THE CASTLE WILL FALL!”

By the way, our boxes? Frequently castles. Go figure.

This went on until the day E figured out that she could tug on my always there ponytail with all the baby strength she could muster, make me flip out, sob her little baby head off, and I’d get in trouble for it.

Not her, but me. Where’s the justice?!

No matter how many times this senseless act of baby violence was committed, I’d still get in trouble. And this has really set the stage for the rest of our lives, when I think about it; they may do whatever they please to me, and they may even get reprimanded for it sometimes. But if I should be stupid enough to spaz, fire and brimstone shall rain down upon my head.

It is this way to this day. And so it is, as far as I can tell, for Olders (and directors) around the world: If they screw up, it’s on you. No ifs, ands, buts, or castle boxes about it.

R coming along was a bit different. Though she and E were only two years apart, putting us at a six year age gap, we got along famously. She’d bounce in her crib, blonde curls and all, and I’d make up songs to sing for her that were just… Awful. But she loved them.

There was no hair pulling there, from what I remember. But I was just as protective of her, if not moreso, because she was the baby. That’s also still how it is today.

The Girls, as I call them even now, are both essentially adults now. After keeping a close watch on them both for the duration of all of our lives, it’s about time (past time, probably) to let go. I’m going to N’s, E is going off to live with her girlfriend, and R will be doing God knows what when she graduates this summer.

It’s unsettling, but I would like to let loose a few secrets, since I’m headed off into a more lax stage of big sisterhood, that I can pass on. Little siblings, there is a good chance your older siblings thought this or something like it. Parents of young kids, get ready for this state of mind, because it’s coming.

After all, while all kids are different, as they grow up there are still some pieces that are universal.

  1. We got it the first time: The intensity with which “PROTECT.” was driven into my skull made me terrified that I was going to somehow kill one of my sisters with so much as a well placed poke. It’s okay to run around with them once the Younger is old enough to do so. The odds of them ending up in a body cast are practically sixty/forty!
  2. We are learning as we go: Whether the Younger is in still in a stage of infancy, or about to get married (like R may be soon), just like parents, we have no idea what we’re doing. We are acting on one part instinct, and one part what we see other people doing. Some of this particular part may be taken from you, parents. You were warned.
  3. We threaten because we care: Younger siblings get into all manner of stupidity. If you’re a Younger, and you’ve had your life threatened by an Older, it is our kindest way of telling you to STOP before the tea kettle starts shrieking. And then explodes in your face. You were also warned.
  4. We call you a dumbass because we care: So even if we’re following you around in the street screaming “HEE HAW!” at the top of our lungs, live with it. An Older that cares and is kind enough to do this should not have to treat you with the same level of diplomacy an acquaintance would. We saw your dirty diapers. (Even the green ones. Dear God, what did you eat?!) We watched you throw up all over yourself. Your fragile ego can take a hit or two.
  5. We care, so don’t assume the negative words/sounds/gestures mean we don’t: If we tell you when we think you’re doing something stupid, it does not mean that you are stupid, it means this thing you are doing at this moment in time is stupid. Stupid.
  6. We never stop worrying: This is what I’ve learned recently. My sisters are going out into the world, each practicing their own levels of dumbassery. They are also both bright, talented, scrappy, and somehow also not dumbasses. But I will still worry they’re going to somehow trip and fall and hit rock bottom until the day I die. I’ll be going first, by the way. They’re not allowed to go before me.
  7. We will never actually let go: So for the last time… Live with it. Don’t make me break out the hee haw again.

This is, of course, just a few. Luckily, being an Older is not like Fight Club. Unless someone’s neglected to tell me something.

Any Olders who want to expand upon this, feel free. Youngers, feel just as free to make yourselves heard. My sisters and I were pretty rough and tumble growing up (still are), but I’m sure for brothers that’s a whole other chesnut. Not to mention that oh so volatile brother and sister mix.

But with my move now officially set for the first weekend of the new year, that’s been in the back of my mind recently.

They’re going to be okay, though. One way or the other. Even without me there steering them away from life’s little nuclear explosives in waiting.

I’m pretty sure I even mean that, too.


~ by Sara on December 11, 2011.

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