I remember the night that I became a big sister. Mom was at the hospital and dad took me to the PizzaVilla. He worked there on the weekends delivering pizzas. He ordered the two of us a large with a different topping on each slice. Standing below the counter, I remember him holding me up so I could approve his special order.
That was the beginning of my experience as the oldest child in our family. But being a big sister was important and “perks” came with the position!
I’m not sure how soon after Michelle’s birth it was that mom sat me down and explained to me the importance of my big sister’s responsibilities. Because I was 5 1/2 years older than my baby sister, I was going to be important in teaching and shaping her into the person she would become.
This poem by Patsy Gaut perfectly sums up my sisterly responsibilities:
My little eyes are watching
ALL you say and do
and when I grow up big and tall
I want to be just like you.
My little ears are listening
To everything you say
I am learning how to grow up;
And be like you someday.
So be careful how you teach me
To be the person that you are
You’re the best friend I could have;
You’re my bright shining star.
Now, I’m not sure where my sisterly education mandate came from, but somewhere along the line, I heard that a child’s personality is developed and set by the time they are 5 years old.
Well, as luck would have it, on Michelle’s 5th birthday, mom had a migraine and I was thrust into the role of party organizer, fun creator, and cake server. Following the party, I was concerned…VERY concerned. I don’t remember what the problem was, but I was worried that I had messed that kid up–BIG TIME!
But that didn’t mean that I gave up. Nope. The role of teacher came very naturally to me. I loved teaching Michelle to play flute and properly care for a hamster. She helped me with my flashcards in Spanish and supervised when I had boys come over to watch t.v. in the basement.
Michelle was–and continues to be–my willing sidekick. I love how she has always looked up to me and trusted my advice. (Well, except that time when she ran her bike into mine and sliced her foot open to the bone. I TOLD her not to look!)
We were each other’s maid-of-honor at our weddings. She’s calm when I’m feeling crazy while traveling. She responsibly reminds me to “turn left, stay left” when driving in Ireland a couple of years back.
I was excited to become a big sister. Michelle has (mostly) made it easy for me to be the “good big sister”. She has always (mostly) respected, loved, and deferred to me.
Although I couldn’t always control her…like in 6th grade when she WASN’T supposed to kick my classmates when meeting me at my classroom after school…she is the perfect little sister.
I don’t know if she realizes it, or not,