Older sibling martyrdom

Say whatever you want about hand-me-down clothing and broken toys – the oldest child is the martyr of the family.

I thought I had been cursed or had done something unspeakable in a former life. I won’t rule out either of these as happening, but I now know my martyrdom results solely from the two babies that snuck into my home when I was three and six years old.

They’ve been nothing but trouble. Sure it was nice being told, “You’ll make such a good big sister.” But little did I know that was just code for, “it’s over; it’s all over.”

Sure parents joke about making mistakes on the oldest, and learning how to raise the younger siblings better. But I’m talking about something else. The older siblings’ feeling of exclusion when parents realize they can provide younger siblings with things the eldest child always wanted.

It’s not just material possessions, but a wide variety of treatment and rule bending as well as weakened punishments.

For example, three of my close high school friends and I decided we wanted to go somewhere warm for spring break our senior year.

When I presented the idea of four responsible honor students taking a trip to learn about the culture of the Mayan Rivera in Mexico, not even a combined total of 10 semesters of Spanish would get us to the airport.

However, during my younger brother’s sophomore year of high school he spent spring break in L.A. with his best friend. The closest thing to an adult on the trip would be the friend’s older brother who let them crash on his couch.

When he came back with stories of making homeless people cry in dark alleys, my parents didn’t even punish him.

Also, the first day of my senior year in high school, I accidentally rear-ended someone. The damage was minimal and I forked over the $250 for repairs.

My parents were livid with me. Flames of fire flashed behind their angry eyes as they lectured me in the garage. And then they just stopped talking to me all together.

I‘d suggest it’s time for us oldest siblings to band together and start a revolution.

For most 17-year-olds, the silent treatment would be heaven. No, these evil legal guardians knew better than that.

I have what is called a gregarious personality. I like to talk. It’s not just that I like to hear the sound of my own voice; I like others to hear it as well.

I went nuts. I was in my own metaphorical padded cell complete with straitjacket. I would have been better off had they just stoned me on the street.

You’d think my brother would face a similar fate in a situation such as this.

However, the summer before my brother’s senior year he borrowed my car (he was too lazy to unhook the family mini van from the boat trailer) and 20 minutes later called from the highway. Nicole’s Neon met the rear end of an F-150 and the engine caught on fire.

He had the standard cuts and bruises, but this was the big time, we had a totaled car on our hands.

It was my turn to be furious. I could have cared less about my car. It’s just that my dad was laughing and joking with my brother at the accident site. I don’t even remember his punishment because he probably didn’t have one.

But, do these younger siblings appreciate any of this?

My brother once turned in an assignment half completed. His joke of a paper was returned with a big, fat, ‘A+’ next to the words “Just like big sister.”

I don’t recall a thank you. I guess by that point it was assumed that in any endeavor they would face, big sister would have already forged a path for the little brothers to ride their golden chariots on.

Again, my parents laughed. They retell this story to friends and family over dinner so everyone can enjoy it. They now know my feelings on being a martyr, and even try to hide it.

Once I began to encounter other people in my same position who shared my feelings, I began to grow stronger.

I had the courage to show my family that I’m not alone, to show them I was now a statistic.

After confronting them, Valentine’s Day cards reassured me that they didn’t buy the dog as my replacement. St. Nicholas gifts usually included a slip of paper saying, “We love our little princess.”

Suddenly, at the age of 18, I was referred to as the family ‘princess.’ But it didn’t help. It only pointed out they were trying to make up for years of neglecting me while catering to the every need of my younger brother, either that or to get me to stop ranting.

I heard stories of a mom making waffles for a younger brother who overslept and needed to watch Sports Center before going to school. Meanwhile, his older sister scrapped off her car in the driveway hoping that it would start.

I’d suggest it’s time for us oldest siblings to band together and start a revolution, but the parents will probably just laugh and buy the younger siblings something new and shiny.


Robinson is a senior print journalism major and a showcase editor of The Spectator.