I was an only child for 13 years. Then, one day, this small human appeared out of nowhere. My life suddenly went from hanging upside down on my bed while talking to my friend Katie on my own personal landline to diaper duty and babysitting. I would try to do geometry homework, but I’d be interrupted by a shrill scream, like nails on a chalkboard or that girl we all know who laughs like a hyena and makes us all contemplate if the jail time is worth it.
I have essentially lived two different lives: a very spoiled, selfish, always-got-my-way-because-I-was-the-only-one kind of life; and a very unselfish, giving, looking-out-for-my-little-sister kind of life. I resented this shit out of her and all of her adorableness for a couple years. She took away some of my spotlight. I didn’t get my way anymore. When all my friends were going to games, movies, or hanging out in town, I was telling my mom–who had her hands full with my sister–she was the worst mom ever because she never had time to take me anywhere. Plus, I was 13 and a little angsty.
Ten years later, I’m over it. I’ve since gotten my own driver’s license, driven two different vehicles, graduated both high school and college, and discovered this whole “I’m an adult, I do what I want” kind of outlook on life. But the struggle is still there–it’s just different. Even after 10 years, I see this list as more of a cons-dominant kind of deal, but there are a few pros to having a significantly younger sibling, too.
1. You get to watch cartoons and Disney movies, judgement-free. When is the last time you watched cartoons without judgement? Go on. Think about it. I’ll wait. And no, watching “Tom and Jerry” when you’re hungover eating Cap’n Crunch from a mixing bowl doesn’t count. I’ve watched “Frozen” twice this week, and I ain’t mad about it.
2. Speaking of that genius Walt Disney, you get to revisit Disney World–because every child has to go to Disney World, right? I was three the first time I went, and all I remember is being super pissed at Goofy for a reason I do not recollect and riding It’s a Small World about as many times as it would take to actually travel the world. This time around, I was hammered drunk in the streets of the happiest place on Earth. I don’t remember why I was pissed off at Goofy this time around, either.
3. Remember when you were a kid and anytime you went anywhere you begged your mom to buy you candy until she gave you a death glare that went straight through your soul? Remember when we grew up and had to pretend we don’t need all that candy even though we really want it? Yeah, I don’t have to do that. Infinite candy. And one of these days, I’ll have the dental plan to back that up.
4. There is always unintentional comedy. Younger siblings have to grow up and go through all the awkward stages that you still try to forget happened to you. So on top of puberty (which is 100 percent LOL when it’s not happening to you) they also have to grow up in a world where people worship the Biebs. This week, my sister let slip her “dirty little secret”–she has a huge crush on her friend, Grant. She also told me her ex, Owen, is a creepy stalker now. Yeah. So, there’s that.
5. I will always be cool. No matter how old I get or how not-cool I feel, someone will always think I’m fucking awesome. And really, the age gap benefits me because I will always know the hip, new lingo the kids are saying these days and (eventually) I’ll have a wardrobe I can pick through so I will always be trendy. I will support anything that keeps me out of mom jeans one day.
1. There have always been (and probably will always be) people who think my life is an episode of Teen Mom. I remember the first time it happened: I was 14 and we were in a JCPenney waiting on our actual mom. In hindsight, I wish I had yelled, “STRANGER DANGER!” and made the lady feel really awkward for judging complete strangers. Although it doesn’t bother me as much now, whether it be that I’m just more mature or immune to it after hearing it so many times, I did laugh in a child’s face two days ago when she called me “Bethany’s mom.” LOL no.
2. I also have to actually care about another human and her wellbeing. You have to become a mature adult at some point and not text and drive while your sibling is in the vehicle with you, and you can’t drink a beer or two at dinner when she wants to ride home with you. While I’m only 23 years old, I feel much older than 23, because I have a mom brain and I’ll probably get grays and wrinkles at any given moment.
3. As if I’m not poor enough, I have to buy the kid presents. Birthdays and Christmas are givens, but younger kids still feel entitled to Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and even Arbor Day presents. I told you kids have infinite amounts of candy, and this is why–you have to buy it for them or you feel like a terrible big brother or sister. You get guilted into it basically until your sibling is a college graduate. (Don’t you dare tell me you didn’t enjoy random care packages when you were in undergrad.)
4. I always have to play dumb games. Kids play Minecraft and Blockheads like it’s crack cocaine. The game that really kills my soul is Animal Jams, or as it’s known by its street name, AJ. Like, let’s play Ghosts or Fratty Bird instead. Be cooler than this.
5. I will always be old. Always. When she started Kindergarten, I started college. When she gets her driver’s license, I’ll be closing in on 30. When she graduates high school, I’ll be 31. When she goes to college, I’ll be the old, jealous, scared-out-of-her-wits, mother hen sister who comes to visit all the time.