Now that I'm an adult, I understand that having an older sister is a blessing. As a child, however, it was more of a curse. (Younger sisters, you know exactly what I mean.) Here are 10 things that only those of us with older sisters will understand.
Mom and Dad may be number one, but the parental runner-up is your older sister. When someone needs to watch the baby for a second, it's your older sister. When your sister is old enough for your parents to leave her in charge of you, she takes the job seriously. Well, guess what? This doesn't change when you turn 20. Or 30. Your older sister will always be Mom #2.
Brothers tend to fight with their fists — they beat the hell out of each other, and then all is forgotten. Sisters tend to fight with their minds, harboring grudges and twisting knives into backs for years on end. Sometimes a punch in the face sounds like the better deal.
They've been around since you were a zygote, and they forget nothing. In a lot of ways this is the best thing ever — she's the only person who can say, "I know exactly what you're talking about," when you ask, "Remember when we were kids and there was that thing in the living room with the black and squares and it had a point to it?" On the other hand, she will also always remember the time you pooped on her bedroom floor. Not that I remember doing anything like that, Stephanie.
Whether it's by putting makeup on you that makes you look like a drunk clown, or sneaking into your room in the middle of the night to squeeze a couple of inches of toothpaste onto your cheek, they will say, "I wonder what would happen if..." and they will find out by using you.
This is a huge win for those of us with older sisters, because there is no hell on earth like that of being the parent of a teenage girl. Not only can you sneak in a lot of crimes under the table while they are dealing with your sister's first car accident, but by the time you become a teen they will be battle weary and weakened. "You want to go out with your friends? Fine. Whatever. Come home before I wake up, and remember that drugs are bad. Good night."
There have been studies showing that older siblings tend to be more ambitious and achieve more. Some will argue that this is not the case in their family, but this struggling freelance writer with an older sister who is a critical care physician will say nothing.
Growing up, you got to relive the fashion choices she either outgrew or thought better of. People may have recognized her clothes on you. You dreamed of having a sweater of your own, yet you accepted that you would be a year or three behind the trends until she went to college. (Nothing like wearing turtlenecks four years after people stopped wearing turtlenecks.)
My twin sister and I were always trying to sneak into my older sister's bedroom because she was older and cooler and had awesome stuff. We looked to her for examples of how to be a preteen and a teenager. And a college student. And an adult living and working on her own. Older sisters have to go first, and if we're smart, we learn from their experiences.
There are things, dirty things, that your parents are not going to teach you: bad words, boys, beers and drugs — she's the only one who will give you the real story on all of those things as you're growing up. And the best part is that when you drop the F-bomb for the first time at dinner, she's the one who gets in trouble.
When they say, "A sister is a friend for life," they are speaking the truth. She will see you at your worst, and still love you. She will see you at your best, and root for you. She will occasionally make you tear your hair out and wish you could do the same to her, but at the same time, she will teach you about unconditional love and forgiveness. This may seem unlikely while you and your sister live under the same roof, but by the time you're both adults you'll be grateful for your older sister, turtlenecks and all.
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