Sometimes I like to watch my kids playing and enjoy the moment. I think about how they interact and how they will grow up relating to one another. I am the oldest of four and I can see from my own kids how my experience was probably different. I find myself wondering who is luckier, the older or the younger siblings?
I watched Jane playing with Lady Bug in the backyard. Jane was digging up a network of mole tunnels, desperately trying to find the mole even though she had no idea what she would do with it. Lady Bug watched her digging and was so excited for her sister to be doing something adventurous. Lady Bug would run several feet away and squat down and giggle then run back to see if the mole had been found. Jane kept digging and was oblivious to her younger sister watching her every move.
It is in moments like this that I wish I could trade places with Jane and let her see what she means to her siblings. Give her my eyes to let her see how much they look up to her, emulate her, and are excited for her. She is quick to judge what they are doing and how they are doing it wrong. They accept her advice as the gospel truth. It is a story that is painfully familiar.
The oldest child is the trail blazer. A champion of firsts and often saddled with more rules and responsibility. The youngest child usually benefits from more relaxed rules and the fact that parents are more likely to be in a better financial spot as they get older. I don’t think my youngest sister is truly aware of what it is like to have a vehicle that may or may not start. That isn’t a bad thing, it is just a thing. It is easy to think that the babies of the family have an advantage but I’m not so sure.
As I watched Jane change her mind about trying to find the mole I noticed that Lady Bug had been standing and waiting for some interaction. Jane jumped up and went to find her next adventure. I realized that as each sibling grows and enters a new phase of life they will leave the younger ones behind. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Middle school, high school, dating, driving, college. Each time the younger sister will want her big sister to stay and play. To hang back and be a kid for one more day.To act like you like Frozen because the younger kids think it is awesome. (Frozen is awesome btw.)
I don’t think being the youngest is much of an advantage at all. The perks are just a payoff for being a step behind. It hurts my heart to know I had the window to have much more of an effect. To be more of a friend. To be an epic big brother and a source of encouragement. I wasn’t terrible but I could have been better and knowing that feels like a loss.
Then again life is a balance and maybe those feelings are unavoidable. I try to remind the girls that their siblings are forever friends. It heals my heart to see them love and protect one another.
If you have siblings, this post is for you. You’re welcome. There are two sides to every coin.
-Underdaddy to the rescue.