‘Just doing my job’
By Tim Linscott
By Tim Linscott
There are certain dynamics to being a sibling.
Each sibling in a family has a certain role or job to do within that unit.
The oldest girl, for example, is typically the mother hen. She acts as a secondary caregiver and ‘right hand’ to mom with the children. This is wonderful when the babies are in that idol phase with the big sister but when they are all school-aged kids, then big sister is now bossy and overbearing.
It is the job of the oldest, generally, to look out after the younger siblings, give advice and be the one who, as the years progress, calls on birthdays, makes arrangements for holiday plans and is the ‘glue’ of the siblings.
My oldest, Adaline, fits that mold. She takes care of the other two, whether they like it or not. She has been perceived as being bossy and the other two fight with her with the argument, ‘you aren’t my mom.’
Addy takes it in stride and not too long ago my middle daughter, Olivia, was sick. She had a high fever and was sleeping on the couch. Addy came upstairs after going to bed to check on her sister. She watches over them when they nap to make sure they are o.k. and worries along with my wife and myself.
I have an older sister, Sherry. Family legend is that as my mother was getting out of the car with me from the hospital, my sister grabbed me, said ‘thanks’ and that was the last time my mom held me.
My sister had a big hand in raising me as both my parents worked and my older brother, Jeff, was beyond the idol stage and his older sister telling him what to do annoyed him.
There is a famous family photo of my brother Jeff not smiling. My sister is grabbing his head and pulling on his cheeks to make him smile properly for the photo. The strained cries of agony can be seen in the photo.
Two years ago I attempted to take a photo of my three children in their Easter outfits by the front door. Elijah, the youngest, wouldn’t stand still or smile. His older sister Adaline grabbed him by the shoulders to keep him still and yelled at him to smile.
The cries of agony can be seen in the photo.
The middle child is usually the one left out. No longer the baby and with no older sibling authority, the middle child usually craves attention and individuality.
Their job is to be a rival to the youngest and flail against the authority of the oldest.
My middle daughter, Olivia, fits that mold.
She is very much an individual and as she has gotten older found her own path. When she was younger her favorite color was whatever Addy’s favorite color was, but now it is just the opposite.
Addy likes to draw. Olivia likes to paint. Addy likes red, Olivia likes purple.
There is a rivalry between Olivia and Elijah. Adaline doesn’t generally fall for his tricks, but Olivia does every time.
She has, however, found her own path to handling things.
He took a toy from her the other day and ran around the house with it so she’d chase him. Once she got the toy back she calmly went and sat down. A few minutes later she said, ‘Hey, Elijah, I forgot I have a surprise for you.’
He walked over to the couch and she put her hands behind her back.
“Now close your eyes,” she said.
He complied and with a big grin stood waiting for his surprise.
She leaned back and slapped him across the face with a force that stumbled him back.
“Surprise!” she exclaimed.
I watched this unfold from across the room and as I went to admonish her, she strolled past me to her room (where I was about to send her) and said, “Don’t take things from me.”
Elijah was whining and upset she slapped him and I consoled him but also gave him this piece of advice, “You play with the bull, you’ll get the horns.” I explained that when you roughhouse with your older sister, especially Olivia, she has her own unique style of handling things. Which, in this case, was five fingers to the face.
My middle brother, Jeff, is a prime example of this theory. He is a single individual because he can’t stand being like anyone else in any way.
He solved a lot of problems with a good tussle or wrestling match.
My brother has a long list of stories about his youth and the torment his older siblings put him through. From being dragged behind a motorcycle, being put in a barrel and rolled into a ditch, to playing tag with yard darts and convincing him he was adopted from Italian gypsies, he’s had an interesting go of it with his siblings.
The youngest is, generally, the baby of the family in several ways. Parents seem to give in to their every whim, which, as a parent, can be true at times. You get so tired you just say, ‘if you’ll leave me alone, fine, go ahead.’
I know that isn’t what you are supposed to do, and it doesn’t happen every day, but it happens.
The youngest has the job of being the mischief maker and annoy the older siblings.
My son does his job very well.
He likes climbing on them, making them chase him and making fun of them. They get annoyed and get upset, which only adds fuel to the fire.
The girls recently set aside some Girl Scout cookies to eat after school. They came home only to find them gone. Upon investigation, cookie crumbs in his bed led us to believe he got up in the middle of the night and ate the cookies. Effectively annoying his sisters and getting a treat in the process.
I am sure everyone out there with siblings has a story or two to share about a rivalry, retaliation or the like, which is a part of life.
We look back on it now and laugh, but it was pretty serious drama back in the day.
I hear a lot of siblings talk about how they hated each other as kids. These conversations are usually during a bonfire, camping trip or social gathering where they are kicking back and relaxing with their sibling.
Looking back over the years there are more memories to be made and shared. Tell us some of your favorite memories on our Facebook page or drop us an e-mail.