Being Big Sis

It’s taken me almost 17 years to realise this but, as the oldest child of three, I was the ‘experiment’. Confused, first-time parents, my mum and dad greeted me with obligatory cuddles and kisses, amid curious prodding and testing of their new-found parental skills. One and a half years later, after the realisation that they were just about capable of the whole mummy-and-daddy thing, it was time for a second child. Some may call it a ‘friend’ for the me; more like a ‘second chance’!
I’ll hold my hands up and admit that the former paragraph may have been a slight exaggeration, caused by my frustration at being the oldest. Undoubtedly, I am not alone with this feeling of dejection as a first-born. The pain, the struggles, the endless battles -fought not only for me but for my baby sis and bro- will eventually swallow me whole, I’m sure. But in the meantime I will endeavour to preach the ugly truth of being big sis…

1. The aforementioned ‘battles’ are real. I have fought for everything and consequently enabled the two younger ones (Amy and Conor) free access to my triumphs. Nintendo DS, Heelies, Facebook, MSN… After a few months of persistent begging for the latter and whining the phrase ‘But ALL my friends have it’, it tended to work… eventually. If it wasn’t for my top-notch persuasion skills, the eyes of my siblings and I would have ventured no further than CBBC and the infamous Bill and Ben jigsaw puzzle.

2. The second most famous quote of mine is, ‘But I get the blame for EVERYTHING!’ According to my parents (and presumably the millions of other parents around the world who have more than one child), younger siblings are exempt from punishments. They are littler, less experienced, oozing with innocence, completely confused and ultimately too cute to hold any responsibility for anything. So, being the resilient big sis I am, I bare the blame and say nothing (if my outrage succeeds in staying hidden, that is). When Conor was 5 and I was 10, he was ‘five years younger’ so I ‘should know better’. Fair enough. However, as the years passed, I noted that he was always five years younger, so when he was 10, poor me still suffered the blame. And now he is 11. And I continue to carry the blame that deserves to be shared equally.

3. The whole secondary school transfer experience has left me permanently scarred. At age 9 I could barely reach the bookshelf in my bedroom, but there I was, marching off to Barbara-the-tutor’s house, keenly carrying my special tutor folder as my worried mum watched with wishful eyes, praying that I would pass all those bloody entrance exams. If I could only do that, then the next 10 years would be sorted; Conor, Amy and I would all be educationally-homed until we turned 18. Woopee. But note the ‘if’. The onus was slowly squashing mini me… Despite failing all but one entrance exam (sorry Mum and Dad), I managed to squeeze into Ashmole by tooting my flute. (Literally. I got a music place #lifesgreatestachievement)

4. Since the tender age of two when my little (although she’s taller than me now…) sister appeared, I have been withheld from winning a game. Maybe not so much with Amy, as she she is 14-nearly15- and seems to be able to stifle the streams of tears when I thrash her at Bananagrams. Conor, on the other hand, is another story. Whether it’s Monopoly, Logo Billionaire, scrabble or cards, my overbearing mother gives me the ‘let him win, Ruth’ eyes. ‘He is younger than you!’ I hear in reply to any complaints I make regarding the matter. Like they need to remind me…

5. One final thing which seriously hacks me off about being the oldest is how I have lost my right to freedom of speech. Amy and Conor’s ears must be shielded from any derogatory words about anything. For example, I was forced by my parents, against my will, to sing joyously of the utter brilliance of the secondary school Conor would be joining me at. “Yes, Conor. You will love PE; the PE teachers are simply delightful,” I blatantly lied. “And science lessons are great, so many mind-blowing wondrous experiments.” Yeah right?! The best experiment I ever did in science was experimenting how patient I could be with Miss Abdulmalik, who was apparently qualified to teach chemistry…

It is more than crystal clear that the lives of older siblings are the toughest in the family. But wait till you hear the worst part: there is no reward. Being the oldest child will mean I’ll need to start dying my hair earliest to hide the grey strands. I will have to invest in botox first. And if I choose to grow old naturally, I will just have to bear the grey hair and wrinkles alone… I will grow too old to join my little siblings when they go out partying. I’ll enjoy lonely nights in front of Take Me Out whilst they dance late into the night at the bar down the road.

It’s a sad life. *cries*


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