“Firstborns are loved most.”
I can practically feel a grin etch itself onto my face watching the scene unfold. Despite being an overgeneralized and totally hypothetical statement, it always receives quite a reaction. It’s why I like to jokingly bring it up; it just ruffles my younger brothers’ feathers. And I’m not one to pass up seeing the jolly scene, watching how they huff and puff, while my parents bluster about to soothe them.
It really does amuse me. Not to mention, it does wonders to my ego.
As you can guess, I’m a firstborn. The only daughter of 3 siblings, I’m the eldest. Growing up as the first child meant a lot of things.
It meant I was usually showered with many new and shiny items, especially since I was a new bouncing baby put in the care of beings that were newly labelled as parents. I was the first to get a new walker, the first to get computer access, even the first to get my own phone (though inherited from my parents). It also meant I was the first to try a car, have more say in what was going on sooner than my siblings, had more liberties than they did.
In many ways, I was the first in many aspects and relished in a lot of advantages. On the other hand though, being the first child also meant a lot of strings attached.
As the first child, I had to learn how to lead. It’s a deeply sown mindset for many living in my situation; the fact that, as you were born first, you will have to lead your siblings. It’s you, that will set the example for the younger ones. It all starts with you.
Looking back, and phrasing it that way, does make it seem like a lot of pressure for a kid, doesn’t it?
It felt like a heavy burden throughout the whole period of growing up, and to be honest I felt a little resentment to the innocent, burden-free, bug-eyed specimens that came after me. All blinking wide-eyed and free from the weight of expectations and roles they had to play.
“Your siblings, your responsibilities.”
Oh, how the words can still be so clear in my head. After years of being the main focus of your parents’ love and attention, you now have to share that. And loving someone who just seems to make life much more difficult and crowded? Not a lot of kids have that as their first instinct. I sure didn’t.
However, that was the lay of the land, and as such, it was the way things were. And, as time passed by, you start to grow and care for, and protect the annoying little ones. So much so that you grew to become like a, albeit much younger, parent to them. It’s a line that blurs often at times.
But, that wasn’t just it. Having endured the experience of everything beforehand, from the sweet taste of satisfaction in winning approval from your parents, to the bitter sting of disappointing them, you are now obliged to guide your younger predecessors through life. In a sense, you had to show them the ropes and avoid the quicksands of anger from your parents.
This also, somehow, included the side gig of being a mediator.
Often times, as the eldest, you’re going to be a bridge between your parents and your siblings. In some situations, you will have the wonderful capability of understanding your parents’ side, while also having the ability to understand the young perspective of your siblings. This will often lead to much to and fro between both sides for the conflict (a benefit that you never quite had, and you kind of have to wonder why you’re doing this, but you’ll do it anyway). At times it’s like a fast ping pong match, and you’re pretty sure you’re going to need a neck brace when you hit 30.
Being the eldest sure has it perks. It also has its share of drawbacks.
So is it a blessing or a curse?
I’ll leave that for you to decide.