The responsibility of being a much older sibling

Hannah Lentz

My family is awesome. My parents are both adventurous teachers, my 16-year-old brother is an unbelievably talented athlete and my sister…well, she’s 8 years old.

To put this age difference into perspective, the same year my parents went to drop me off for my freshman year at Grand Valley State University, they had to drop my sister off for kindergarten.

When my sister was born, I had already been a big sister for eight years, but being much older sister is a very different ordeal. Let me list the ways:

1. You don’t have much room to mess up. They say that children base most of their behavioral traits off experiences from the first few years of their life. To be honest, I think this explains how sassy my sister is (in a good way). Imagine learning your behaviors from a 13-year-old girl who had side bangs and wore only Aeropostal graphic tees, you really have to watch yourself. I dare someone to mess with this little girl, she has five years of high school angst under her belt already.

2. You aren’t an “In-House Sibling (TM)” anymore. Even though you’re living outside of the house by the time they’re having things happen of their own, this doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. The responsibility is on you to make your way home for all birthday celebrations, all dance recitals and whatever else they call you and guilt you into.You try and resist a first grader calling you to ask you to buy something from their school fundraiser so they can get a T-Shirt, I dare you.

3. The “Right, Hannah?” element. Let me explain. As any older sibling knows, your little siblings are your best friends and your worst nightmare. One instance where this becomes a problem is when they don’t agree with your parents or your other family members. They see you as their advocate in all things. So when mom and dad say “no ice cream for dinner” you can almost always expect a rebuttal where you are used as the star witness. “Hannah says ice cream is good for dinner. Right, Hannah?” At this point, you have to make a choice, betray your parents who have done so much for you or betray the sad eyes looking up at you with dreams of ice cream for dinner.

4. People thinking your little sibling is your child. When you’re at the playground with your sibling and your little sister (who happens to look exactly like you) runs up to you, the obvious assumption is that this is your child. Honestly, this shouldn’t be as insulting as it is. Of course this is what people think. However, the first time this happens you have somewhat of an identity crisis. Just moments ago you were two kids going outside for some fun in the sun, now you have a child to feed and college to save for.

Being an older sibling is weird. It’s weird to see your siblings driving and talking and making friends because you aren’t there all the time anymore, but it comes with advantages. You get to be the cool older sibling coming home from college and you get to take them out for ice cream whenever you want because you won’t be the one who is blamed for the cavities. Being a old sibling is awesome, and being an even older sibling is just as cool, because you actually get to look kind of cute in the photos you take with them.