“The Eldest of Three”

December 17, 2007
Being the eldest of three naturally has forced me to mature quicker than my siblings. There is an eldest child in every family (unless there is an only child), and every family has a unique combination of offspring, from the number, to the sex, and order of birth.
My family has a particular combination that I have grown to appreciate. A girl—boy—boy combination, in which I am the eldest girl; having experience, superior knowledge, and precedence in various situations, over my two younger, less experienced and more ignorant brothers.
There are two divisions in which I prefer to categorize my learning experience involving my brothers. I have devised these categories based on what I believe to be the two divisions of anyone’s life—everyday interaction and “fun” life.
By everyday interaction, I mean having a “successful” conversation with a boy close to my own age, and a boy several years younger than I. By a successful conversation, I am referring to one in which two (or more) people reach a common understanding and all of their points are not only heard, but are understood.
My brothers, being quite far apart in age (there is one year between the eldest brother and I, and five years between my youngest brother and I), created a balance of attitudes for me to learn serious behaviors.
My littlest brother is watching television in the living room while I am trying to do my homework in the kitchen. His laughing, mixed with overdramatic sound effects from the T.V., distracts me. I ask him politely to move upstairs, and I give him the reasons why I am asking him to do so. He obnoxiously refuses, bawling “No! Leave me alone!” Instead of appealing to his angry side to get him to move (this would have been my old way of doing things, in which I would probably grab the remote out of his hands and not give it back to him until he moved), why not try his positive side? If he is in a better mood, won’t he be more inclined to do me a favor? So instead, I make ridiculous faces at him and bring out the tickle torture. He’s laughing so wildly when I’m through, that when I ask him to move into another room again, he does it. I don’t know if he moves because he’s out of energy to argue with me anymore, or he’s just annoyed and wants to get away from me, or that he genuinely wants to do me a favor for putting him in a good mood, but it doesn’t matter to me. The bottom line is that he moved.
A more complex obstacle is that in which I need my oldest brother to do something for me. The same situation as the previous, where he is watching television in the living room and I am doing my homework, takes a lot more thinking. Is it even possible that a rebellious teenager like he will have such generosity as to move from the most comfortable spot in the house, during one of his favorite shows? What side of him should I appeal to? I really have no way of making him laugh, because he is much funnier than I am. I definitely do not want to anger him, because he will probably use physical retaliation on me. I am forced to annoy him in a mature manner. I will not make faces at him nor continuously tap nor taunt him. In fact, I will not touch him at all. I will sit down next to him and begin a conversation, because this is the last thing he wants right now. “What show are you watching? I heard it was good, but I’ve never actually seen it. Can you explain to me what’s going on?” We all know the last person anyone wants to be around during a movie or show is the “information-getter.” My brother wants to watch his show in peace, so he leaves the living room and goes to his room.
The other division includes, for the most part, those times when I need to let loose and laugh.
Many times, my younger brother will try to emulate his “cooler” older brother. This, of course, includes those times when my eldest brother is angry with me and wants to physically hurt me. Both of them will charge at helpless little me. What to do in a situation like this? Not only do I grow upset that my youngest brother does not want to be more like me, but I feel ostracized; like I am missing out because I do not have a relationship like theirs.
The best solution to this dilemma may seem ineffective. However, I suggest giving it a chance. My solution is to laugh.
Yes, my brothers are mad at me; and yes, I am mad at them. They are running straight towards my body, their faces scrunched up with fury, like football players charging the bag. But this is just hysterical, and I cannot help but laugh. Eventually, all three of us forget what we started to fight over in the first place, and we are exhausted of laughter. I do not feel so friendless anymore.
Although my present cognition of life and its complications has grown rapidly over the years, my brothers have yet to teach me so much more.

I am learning with my brothers all the time. I have become a better communicator with them as my teachers and my advisors. Their wildness calms me; without them, I would be dull, not dynamic. When I am with them, they force me to think about what I am doing: is it effective? Is it fair?
Problem-solving is something that I will need for the rest of my life, and I hope that I can give back the knowledge to my brothers that they have given me. They have given a gift to my life without even knowing it.

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