The First-Born

My elder one, soon to be a highly inquisitive ten-year-old girl, threw a half-hearted tantrum the other day. G and I were quite perplexed with the whole thing, as she has not, in all her growing up years, thrown anything remotely similar to a tantrum (which probably explains why even this one did not quite look convincing enough).

The First-Born

All through her baby years, toddler years and school years, she has put to good use her convincing skills, her baby charm and her intellect to get what she wants (mostly); and given in gracefully when she had realized things aren’t going to work her way.

This sulky avatar was new to us, and we set about analyzing why this little anecdote happened.

This led me to compare the age-wise behaviors of both the kiddos – the elder nine-year old and the younger five-year old.

In almost all the tasks that required independence, we discovered that the elder one was far ahead. Let me elaborate…..

She stopped wearing diapers much, much earlier. Infact, there were times when it was a common sight to see a very exasperated mother running behind a very determined two-year old, trying to get her into diapers for the night.

She started eating on her own much earlier. She refused to let anyone come between her and her cereal bowl, once the meal began.

She picked out her clothes quite early, plainly refusing to wear what she thought was not ‘nice’. (the younger one still cares two hoots what I make him wear)

She would run around, fetching the knick knacks that I needed during the course of the day to take care of another brand new baby.

Then it hit me – the new baby had changed my first one!

On hindsight, I do feel that 5-year-old first-born was like a helping hand, while 5-year-old second one is more like a few confused rabbits set loose. When she was five, she knew she had to keep the volume down during nap times, or the baby would wake. The current 5-year-old knows no such rules.

When she came back from school, she would gather her clothes, neatly put her bag in a corner and tip toe in to give me hug. I am also aware that she would do it willingly, just so that life was a little easier for me. The second one still needs to be threatened, coaxed, warned, bribed and finally screamed at, to do his bit. And when I try emotional blackmail on him, (“Mamma is tired, and will have to do all the work if you don’t help out…”) he looks at me with all the understanding of a cocker spaniel, and continues to create a mess.

Suddenly, it seemed as though being the first-born, daughter dearest grew up much faster. I was suddenly gripped with a strange guilt, wondering if she would have been a different person if she was the second one.

G was quick to the rescue with his arguments – as the first-born, she was the special one – and will always be so. And she did get exclusive time with parents and grandparents for about 5 years.

So I leave you with this question … Is there a flip side to being the first-born?

Meena Bhatnagar is a mother of two, with a passion for the written word. She dabbles with fiction, a couple of them finding their way into published work, is an avid blogger, and works as a corporate trainer to pay for all the damages. She blogs on parenting, social issues and humorous incidents of her life and on hotel & restaurant reviews and corporate training.

  • As I first born I know what you mean. The expectations are higher but the sense of being special is always there. It will equip your daughter to expect being special as her birthright and she will ensure that she continues to get it.

    • Completely agree, Ritu… she will always be the special one 🙂

  • haha… always a very cute debate… being the first one, everyone expected and expects me to behave maturly, understand better, learn to behave with the young ones, not crib, help all, do this, do that…. and all this by myself.. *pitty*… but i enjoy.. the privilege of being the eldest… i know ur first kiddo is going thru a phase where she must be feeling y is bhaiya not like me and why only me have to take care of things while he keeps messing around… let your kids enjoy this… but the young ones also need to be instilled filed the emotion of taking care of their elder siblings… i feel this will happen over time… 🙂

    • hahaha Supriya, right now the kids positively HATE each other! I do hope that phase gets over soon 🙂

  • Chitra Santosh

    Well story of my life… I have always complained that I have been treated like an adult ever since the day I was born and my brother remains a baby (even at 21). Also peppered with the, “nobody loves me” rant. This continued till quite recently till I heard my mom tell someone that no matter what, I was her strength and my bro is still a kid. And just like that ‘flipside’ just brightened my day..
    That no matter what you think, the first borns sure are special…

    • Yup!! I’m a first born too, and I had the very same symptoms too. But yes, as we grew older, I realised I was the one that was asked first opinion in all decisions, and I somehow, was always the special one too 🙂

  • Roshni

    awwww…that is so sweet!! I’m sure she did enjoy her five years of exclusivity! Kids yearn for siblings so it is definitely her own initiative and love for the younger one that drove her to ‘take care’ of him!! Still, I’m sure no harm will be done in babying her some of the time! God knows how many more years she will allow that!! 🙂
    “5-year-old second one is more like a few confused rabbits set loose”…LOL!!!

    • How true Roshni…. she is already showing signs of exasperaion when we mollycoddle her 🙂 … I am aware we have only a few more years of baby time with her.

  • I’m the middle sibling, and I totally believe that the 1st born is an adult since birth. It might be pretty unfair on them at times, but they are also treated as the special one (as rightly pointed out by Ritu)

    • I know Falak …. its a mixed blessing I guess!!