I drove home yesterday. I didn’t want to and I didn’t have to, but I did because my little sister asked me to. There are three things that I know for certain I’m good at: procrastinating, spending money, and being a big sister.
Growing up, my parents always expected me to be the responsible one, the smart one, and the one who could be trusted. I did my best to emulate these qualities in everything I did, to the point I basically became a full-time babysitter at the age of ten. As the oldest of four, I didn’t choose to be the first born, but I can do the job pretty damn well.
But sadly being away at school only allows me to be a big sister from a distance. My 19-year-old sister is running around NYC, and my youngest brother and sister still live at home in Buffalo.(Yes I have a brother, nobody seems to know that?) So when my little sister texted me in the morning asking me to come watch her cheerleading competition, I somehow got in my car at 9:30 a.m. wearing last night’s makeup, and drove to Buffalo as fast as I could.
My youngest sister is 12 years old and one of my best friends. Like me, she took up cheerleading and loves it as much as I do. She’s constantly asking me for my clothes I don’t wear anymore, and she ended up cutting her hair short a week after I cut mine. Of course she is going to want copy what I do, I’m flattered, but my job is to make sure what she is copying is dignified. All I want is to be someone she can proudly look up to. Knowing I am a role model for her definitely gives me more of a purpose and I’m so lucky to be able to have that reason.
One could argue that being a big sister is somewhat like being a mom…but in no way is that comparison applicable to me. To me it’s about being that person your sibling(s) can go to when going to mom is out of the question. “Yeah I’ll make sure mom doesn’t find out you skipped school,” or “Sure I’ll lend you money because you’re an idiot and spent all of yours on something stupid” (one of the perks of being the oldest includes the right to be brutally honest without penalty).
The responsibility factor is something I would say I’m good at handling. I’ve always been independent, and I believe it’s because I don’t know what it’s like to have someone older to depend on. I’ve done and figured out everything first so that my younger siblings never had/have to. It wouldn’t seem right if it was any different though. If the roles were reversed, this is how I’d envision the responsibilities weighing down on my 19-year-old sister:
Better yet, if any of my siblings were to ever end up in jail, I’m almost positive they would call me first. And there I would be, bailing them out while figuring out how to spin the story so our parents wouldn’t disown them. I know, horrible scenario to imagine, but I think you get my point.
I think can speak for all big sisters alike: our job deserves more credit, but it’s the best job in the world.