Contrary to what the psychologists say, the life of the oldest sibling is always the toughest, and those of us who experienced it are all a bit weirder for it. Unlike our spoiled successors, we had to spend our youth trapped by the amateur, obsessively concerned techniques of our strict, first-time parents. We were the siblings who had to endure the parenting fails and crazy ideas, like going to Christian sleepaway camp to "build character."
We were the ones who had to drink milk with dinner every night before an hour of viola practice. We were the ones who had to haggle, beg and "prove our worth" for the same first car our younger siblings found waiting in the driveway on their sixteenth birthdays. We were the ones who had to break our parents in, wear them out, educate them on how things were really going to be.
Like the first soldiers out of the trenches, we took the bullets, plowed the mine fields and weakened the core. We fought, relentlessly, despite being frustrated and weak, thrashing our way to gaining ground on the opposing side. Few of us got out unscathed; too many of us came out broken and somewhat anti-social.
After leaving the nest, returning home is always a bit difficult to bear, as we're exposed to the cushy life of the second brigade. There are no curfews, no rules with boyfriends, no chores to be done; there is no such thing as “character building” lessons, like those we had to endure all the way up until the fateful day our college acceptance letters arrived by mail.
Our successors say they know struggle; they know nothing of struggle. They know nothing of what we had to do for them, clearing the path, making way for a light stroll through what used to resemble a battlefield. They complain about having to clean their plates after dinner and we choke on our glass of milk, which we’re still drinking due to sheer habit. Our younger siblings know nothing of real struggle. They are spoiled kids who think it's customary to get an iPhone in fifth grade. They know nothing about the real world, and they never will. We'll always be there leading the way, sending back warning signals to stay away or green flags to proceed.
After raising our younger siblings, our parents just barely resemble who they were when we were their only child. They realize it actually didn’t matter if we took that SAT prep class, and looking back, they can now admit that the Christian sleepaway camp was pretty unnecessary in the greater picture of our personal growth. They realized there was no way to keep us from drinking, so they might as well accept it this time around with our younger siblings.
Oh, and let's not forget about the TV that now resides in your room, which used to be something your parents didn't "believe in." So, after years of wearing our parents down to a point where they've just thrown in the towel on taming our younger siblings, let's take a moment to reflect and appreciate everything older siblings had to endure:
You don’t appreciate the privilege of iPods until you’ve had to find ways to steal ‘N Sync’s No Strings Attached because it was "too mature."
Renting movies from Blockbuster
We definitely wouldn’t have been allowed to rent "21 Jump Street," "Magic Mike" or any Channing Tatum film for that matter.
Having multiple part-time jobs
At least we have “more character” after working those night shifts at Baskin Robbins.
Abiding by strict curfews
It’s not like we had a car to drive at 16, but our parents still followed the "no driving past 10 pm" rule for drivers with provisional licenses.
Trying to talk on landlines
On the plus side, we got to listen in on our parents' telephone convos. There was some juicy stuff there.
Obeying parental regulation of television
"South Park"? We weren’t allowed to watch "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" because it was too explicit.
Sharing the family computer
Kids with laptops know nothing about trying to AIM your sixth grade boyfriend with your mom needing to jump on the computer every 20 minutes to check her email.
Getting in trouble for drinking
You think you have it bad when you can't throw a party in the house? If mom and dad even sensed we touched the Devil's liquid, we were grounded for a month. You've probably never even been grounded.
Going to concerts with chaperones
Popping Molly? Dave Matthews concerts? We had to go to The Spice Girl Reunion tour with our friend's dad who sat on the end.
Hearing the over-protective parent-to-parent phone calls
Must be nice to have no questions about where you're going or who you're going with. We didn't just have to answer the questions, but wait for the official approval that only came once they made sure the other parents were home.
Sleepovers were a luxury that we had to beg for and maybe got once a month.
Attending Hebrew school or CCD
Back when they really cared, they used to take up the task of driving us to and from after school religion class, which usually consisted of at least an hour of the most boring unnecessary bullsh*t you've haven't partaken in since organized sports.
Being coached by a parent
We all learned the hard way that having a parent for a coach doesn't make kids feel more loved, but despise their parents to a new point they never knew.
Eating a supervised diet
There was no soda with dinner, there was no soda in the house, there was only soda in the college cafeteria. No candy, processed foods...
Signing up for SAT Prep
We had to do an extra hour of homework every day just to prepare for the extra two hundred points our parents would inevitably decide wasn't worth the effort for the second kid.
Figuring out a way to date
We had to be the first to break them into the idea of someone else putting us to bed....
Begging for the first family pet
You know the dog that you never play with anymore? Well, who do you think had to walk that thing a total of three times to "prove their worth."
Getting caught sexting
After us, they learned never to look at your phones.
Dressing according to our parents' rules
It wasn't their idea to let us start dressing like little whores from Limited Too and Abercrombie.
Asking for forgiveness for our first piercing/tattoo
The first time's always the worst.
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