There are so few who know what it’s like to grow up in a family with lots of children which means there are even less people who know what it’s like to be the oldest of lots of siblings. I asked my oldest daughter to write about what it’s like to be the oldest of eight children.
Eight children. Ages eighteen to a mere four years. Someone has to be the oldest.
And that someone, as it turns out, is me.
For the sixteen or so years that I’ve held the position of Oldest Child and Sometimes Surrogate Parent, I’ve discovered a lot of things and learned plenty of lessons. Today, I want to share a few of them with you in the form of pros and cons, giving you a glimpse into the life of a large family – and of the oldest sibling in that family.
#1: CON – WAY MORE RESPONSIBLITY
If you’re the oldest siblings, chances are you’ve babysat for your parents a few gazillion times. Now, it’s not the babysitting I mind so much – it’s the responsibility involved. Instead of reading a book or watching the newest episode of your favorite TV show, you’ve got to make sure your little brothers don’t murder each other over the rights to a Lego brick or drown themselves in the bathtub. Exhausting, right?
#2: PRO – PRIVILEGES GALORE
Only one cookie left on the cookie tray? It’s mine. Who gets to stay up an extra hour to watch a movie? Me. How about special outings with our grandparents? They usually pick me. (It helps that I’m no longer in school. And I do have to say that those kind of privileges have evened out between the five oldest now, but back in the day, it was almost all me.) Even though I have all that responsibility, there’s plenty of benefits that come with all that.
#3: CON – YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO DO SOMETHING FOR FOREVER, BUT ONCE YOU DO, ALL YOUR YOUNGER SIBLINGS CAN DO IT, TOO
If you’ve never experienced this, you don’t know frustration. Let me give you an examples to illustrate, okay? First of all, I was never almost never allowed to watch Disney/Pixar films when I was a kid. But now that I’ve watched so many, my little brothers are allowed to watch a plethora of animated films for which I would’ve given my right to the last cookie on the cookie tray.
#4: PRO – YOU DO GET TO DO SAID THINGS BEFORE ANYONE ELSE
Which is pretty cool, even if it means your siblings will be able to wear nylons, read The Hunger Games, and watch the afore-mentioned animated movies before they’re much older.
#5: CON – LITTLE TO NO PRIVACY
With so many other people in the house, privacy is an extremely scarce and precious commodity. Especially when you share one room with two younger sisters. Whether it’s Bekah playing with Legos on the floor of our room, Elisabeth grabbing her computer, or my little brothers pounding on the door to tell me their “tale of woe”, it’s difficult to snatch some alone time. Not impossible, but difficult. (And for an introvert, it’s twice as hard.)
#6: PRO – PLENTY OF ABLE MINIONS TO DO YOUR BIDDING
I do say “please”. And it’s a great perk.
Anyway, that’s my list.
Are you the oldest sibling in your family? Can you relate to any of these points? I’d love to know.