family

Older Sibling Syndrome

get out of my houseMy brother is four years older than me and I’LL NEVER LET HIM FORGET IT! NEVER! It’s my duty as the younger sibling to mercilessly tease him when necessary- and it’s always necessary-about random things like the time he bought a blue jumper that was so bright, it made him look like an extra on Sesame Street. 

Although we’re both adults, one of us is adulting much better than the other. Spoiler alert, it’s not the person writing this blog post, drawing comics, and eating cookies for dinner.

How did this happen? How and why? Why, God why?! Answer me!

Looking back, it’s clear to me now that:

My brother has been a responsible adult since he was a child.

I know this sounds nuts, so let me explain.

When you’re the youngest, it feels like you have it the roughest. For instance, my parents were much more lenient with my brother when it came to curfews. I, on the other-hand was told, “You come home when the sun goes down,” which would’ve been totally reasonable if it wasn’t during winter.  In London. So basically 4pm. When I was sixteen.

curfew

If your older sibling is very popular, like mine was, then your birth name quickly becomes irrelevant. Throughout primary and middle school I was known as “Deji’s Little Sister.”

People did eventually learn my name after my brother was cast in the lead role for the Christmas play (a big deal at the time), but that was only because I played a dancing fairy with no lines, who’s skirt fell down. My skirt wasn’t supposed to fall down, but that’s a story for another time. 

Being the youngest, and a girl in a Nigerian household, meant dishing out snacks and beverages to visiting relatives while my brother got in on the banter with the adults, played on his Sega Mega Drive in his room, or played football in the back garden.

Thing is…

From the moment I Simba’d my way into this world, (I imagine the doctor held me up in the air, prompting everyone to drop to their knees and break out into song) my brother had a duty to look after me and “set an example,” whether he liked it or not. This was reiterated by our parents, aunties and uncles, and random old people.

Anytime we were about to be left to our own devices, my brother was put in charge. I always thought this was a sweet deal for him, because he got to spend time with me (!) and boss me around…

But that also meant that if I did something bad, or worse still, injured myself, then it was my fault and his fault, and I did BOTH of those things a lot.

siblingsEvery now and then, cousins would come over and I got a taste of this responsibility….

But they would leave and I was free again to get up to all sorts of savagery which included, but was not limited to: playing with fire, accidentally tie-dying my dad’s work shirt, breaking pretty much everything my brother owned, and breaking into our own house three times.

I make a lot of jokes about how infuriatingly Renaissance Man-esque my brother is but it never really occurred to me that being the oldest can mean having to grow up quicker because a portion of responsibility is handed to you when the new kid comes along. I’m sure at times it felt like there was more pressure to do what’s right instead of doing what feels right.

As an adult, he’s the kind of person kids imagine thirty-somethings to be: a proper grown-up with a fancy watch and even fancier trousers who has his shit together.  And in a way…it’s all thanks to me.

So…you’re welcome?

But also, thanks bro.

You’re kinda like, my best friend…ew gross.

Shout-out to all the older siblings out there.

2 Comments

  1. Bintou says:

    Nice one mate!

  2. Marcie says:

    Being the older sibling I can totally relate, basically being responsible for a child I didn’t give birth to lol
    #parentsgiveupafterthefirstkid

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