Growing up I was convinced that my parents would never really get how difficult I, the older sister, had it. They were both youngests, and thus, inevitably, spoiled rotten. And it’s true, they seemed pretty unsympathetic to my complaints that my brother wanted to do deeply annoying things like “hang out with me” and “love me.” Uuuuuuhhhhhhh! Annoyinggggg!
Suddenly, I have a different perspective.
Sometimes when Harper comes over to him to play or steal a toy, Alton literally quivers with excitement. He ADORES her. He has this hysterical laugh that is only for her. He will just sit in his exersaucer and watch her bounce around the room. The poor kid can’t even talk, and already it’s clear that he thinks his sister is amazing.
As his mother, of course I’m like, Aw! He’s so cute and lovable and nicely damp with drool at all times! Lucky Harper to have this devoted new buddy! What fun!
Don’t get me wrong. Harper is very sweet towards her brother. When she’s in a situation that’s making her anxious, she grabs his hand, to “make him feel better.” She talks about how she can’t wait to be 18 so that she can splash him in the pool. (We said they needed to be older, and she assigned the age of 18 as an appropriate time for splashing. Also, chewing gum.) She is occasionally possessed by what we call love attacks, where she grits her teeth and makes pinchy hands at him and says, “I just want to touch him!”
But also, it’s no secret that she’s just slightly annoyed that he exists. Let’s face it, her life was pretty baller before this. We hung out all day, did really elaborate art projects, played long and complex games together. As my mother put it, You’re told you’re getting this new playmate and it sounds like it’s going to be fun, but then the baby arrives and you realize it just means you have to wait. And thus, no matter what any little brother ever does, no matter how awesome he is, no matter how much he adores and worships his older sibling, his entire life there is someone who is just sort annoyed that he exists. And then when the older siblings tries to victimize this deserving whelp, the parents get all touchy and then feel sorry for the new guy and then are even nicer to him, which is infuriating to the older one. What a vicious cycle!
I really never got it until now. Poor youngers! Sure, you’re spoiled by your parents. Sure, we olders have to spend our childhoods wearing down our parents so that you can eat Doritos and never have a curfew. You’re welcome for that. As it turns out, parents actually really love these second kids, and need to protect them from their older siblings’ scary-sweet love attacks, and just want everyone to get along, and don’t see how annoying the youngers are in part because dudes, the annoyingness is sometimes not visible to the naked/non-sibling eye. To the rest of the world, these youngers are JUST KIDS. Who knew?
In the words of Harper: “Just put him down!”
Or in the (reported) words of me, to my mother, when my brother was born: “Maybe you should have had just one kid.”
So I just want to say, to all the younger siblings of the world: Stop being so annoying. Oops, I mean: Sorry. We love you, we really do.