As a parent I find myself drawn back, reflecting on my childhood and upbringing, as if peering through a window I watch scenes from my memory to find answers to things within my own journey of raising little people. Sometimes it’s a what not to do, as opposed to a how to.
Take, for example, your eldest child.
I am the eldest child. The eldest of three. There are 6 years between me and one sister, and 10 between me and another.
If you haven’t grown up with younger siblings, of the female sex (I can’t speak for little brothers, as I have none), let me give you an idea of what it’s like through this very simple exercise.
Step one. Take everything you love, clothes, makeup, jewellery, music and hide it. In someone’s top drawer or under their bed is always the best spot according to my research. Now leave it there, for at least a month.
Step two. Lock yourself out of the bathroom when you really need to use it, for at least half an hour.
Step three. Spray your house in hormones, of the PMS variety. Enjoy.
Being the eldest sibling is a tough job. You are the one breaking your parents in, giving them a good old taste of the parenting gig. Essentially, you’re ground breaking. Doing all of the leg-work for the siblings that follow so that they may have a cruisey ride on your coat tails.
Have you noticed that? That when a sibling repeats an action of yours they are never in as much trouble as you were! I hated that! Take for example, when I was a teenager and of the age of being allowed to go to parties. Mum was always pretty cool with the whole thing, so you would try and ask her when dad wasn’t around so you didn’t get the grilling “who are you going with, how are you getting home, what time will you be back?” I decided at one point, foolishly, that my curfew meant that was the time I had to leave the party, not the time I had to be in the door. Needless to say I was wrong. But then I watched my siblings, who were having a rough day if they were even given a curfew! Double standards mum and dad, double standards. The siblings however, should be forever grateful and worship the ground I walk on. They won’t though, of course.
I have one sibling that I have never gotten along with. Of course I love her to death and would do anything for her, but we have a personality clash or something. I tend to clash with a lot of people. I have this thing with idiots; I can’t stand to be near them. But, I have one sibling that I adore. The youngest. I think the age gap between us has made us close. She wasn’t old enough to really annoy me when we were growing up and now I’m old enough to see her as a teenager and help her through that. Whilst being young enough to still laugh at her antics. And boy, are there some antics.
I have three children of my own these days. Two girls and a boy. Boy being the middle child. Only boy and middle child. I can see this leading to all kinds of ‘syndromes’ in the future.
Only boy syndrome.
Middle child syndrome.
Surrounded by hormonal women syndrome.
I try my hardest to promote equality in my house. And to not have the double standards my parents do. But in all honesty, when you have 3 of the little creatures (my heart goes out to anyone with more!) there comes a point in the day, where you just answer every question with “do whatever you want”, and “I don’t care”. It was never like that when there was just one of them, or two even, but there seems to be a cosmic shift when you get to three. Or its just sheer exhaustion.
I have heard that three is the hardest. Four is meant to be easier. I’m not game enough just yet to test this theory.
My eldest child, bless her cotton socks, is a gem. An absolute doll. The other two are going to be sadly disappointed, as she is such a people pleaser, and never disappoints. She wouldn’t know what a tantrum was. I say this now, while she is 9.
But if she keeps up this amazing behaviour, the other two are going to feel seriously duped in the “big sister breaking in the ‘rents” stakes.
Now I sit, as a grown up, writing this and reflecting on my crazy days of youth, and I still smile. I am a step ahead of all of my children because I already know how the system works.
Are you the ground-breaking sibling?
How has your childhood given you insight to your own parenting?