I know you think I was unduly harsh on you today, when I called you over to “resolve” a conflict with your younger brother. You stood there, cold as fucking ice, as your little bro sobbed that you weren’t sharing the magna-tiles. I stared at you incredulously, pointed to your brother and said, “Your little brother is crying, fix this. You are his sister, that’s your job.” I then turned back to my very important work, drawing a motherfucking rainbow for what’s-her-face.
Don’t get me wrong. I saw you. I saw the rage at being left to deal with your brother… but a big sister who not only stands stone-cold while her little brother suffers, but asks a relative STRANGER to mediate your familial conflict? It’s time to put on your goddamn big sister pants, girl.
Being a big sister is the first job you will ever have in your life. And it’s a fucking important one. You are friend, you are mini-mom, you are antagonist and protector, you are confidante and whistle-blower, which also makes you alternately loved and bitterly resented. Your job is to tell your little brother stories while you’re in the bath together, serve as creative director during playtime, and impartial referee to games in which you are an active participant. He will be boring sometimes, and no fun at all, and when you complain to your mom that you are bored, she will tell you, “That’s what I gave you a brother for.” You will be cheated out of winning, you will be blamed for messes, unfairly assigned blame in conflict, occasionally you will have to run into your room and slam the door while your much smaller brother hurls a chair at it, trying to get at you so that he may hurl the chair at your face. You will have no privacy, he will break into your diary and use the information obtained there against you. Your parents will tell you the awful truth that, someday, he will be physically bigger and stronger than you, and you will neither be capable of imagining it nor believing it. You will break your parents in for him, everything you wanted to do but weren’t allowed to when you were in high school he will be permitted to do, and more. You will clean up his messes, your dad will tell you that’s your job, even when he is an adult. You will be stood up when better plans come along or he just forgets you had plans together to begin with. You will be there every time he wants to talk to you, every time he has a problem, and you will be forgotten when he starts dating someone until there is a problem and he needs your advice.
And you will love him with every tiny little piece of you. You will understand the capacity to love with a pure and singular ferocity that many people won’t, even some people who have siblings of their own. When he hurts, you hurt. When he is happy, sometimes you are happy too and sometimes you will also hurt. When you think he is not paying attention, he is, and he will always understand you better than you give him credit for. When tragedy strikes your family, you will find that your worst grief is his suffering, and you will wish more than anything that you could take away his fear and pain so that he could stay a little boy. He will give you a more thoughtful birthday gift than the guy you have been dating for four years. And when you leave the guy you have been dating for four years, and are devastated and terrified, he will call you and say, “Look, I know you’re sad and everything is weird and messed up… but can we please talk about my problems for a minute?” He will make offensive jokes about your breakup that will make you laugh so hard you cry. You will send each other work papers to proofread. He will photoshop Nicholas Cage into your Facebook photos. He will guess the passcode to your mother’s phone and respond to your text messages as her to mess with you. He will guess the passcode to your phone and change your background to a picture of Brett Favre. He will protect you when you don’t need protecting, and assume you want him to butt out when you really wish he’d step in and help, but he will always be there for you. You will be awed at the great man he becomes, and so proud that he is your brother. … Except for all of time times you want to kill him, of which there will still be plenty.
Being a big sister is no easy job, and it is not for the faint of heart. But it is also not a choice, and it is the greatest gift your parents could have ever given you. So man up and share those fucking magna-tiles.