I think God may have made a mistake.
I was born in the 20th century, when I should have been born B.C. I’m not sure what He was thinking when He made me first. God made me a firstborn in an era in which being the firstborn is a burden, not a blessing.
In the Bible, being the first child meant a double portion of the inheritance and the favor of your household. In the post-Baby-Boomer era, however, firstborn status means nothing but a double portion of responsibility and stress.
Although I haven’t figured out the scientific logistics yet, I am determined to never have a firstborn child when I grow up. I don’t want any of my offspring to suffer under the weight I have suffered.
There is nothing beneficial about being a firstborn – you pave the way for your siblings, endure harsher punishments, have to wait longer for “grown-up” privileges, and have an abundance of stressful, control-freak tendencies.
I remember my first day of 6th grade. My mom – yes, my mom – walked me into Crossler Middle School. I was a no-name, just a skinny little 11-year-old with approximately 7 friends from my elementary school. I didn’t have a cool big brother or sister to introduce me to all the 8th graders. I had to introduce myself, if I could ever muster up the courage.
Now fast-forward two years to my sister Becca’s first day of 6th grade. She proudly walked next to me, saying hi to the crowds of people who already knew her as “Kristin’s sister.” She was automatically a pro at this middle school thing, simply because she knew 6th, 7th, and 8th graders since I had gotten to know them for her long before she set foot in the building.
Becca’s first day of high school was no different. She never had to worry about getting lost because her big sister was there to show her around. Firstborn children, like myself, do not enjoy the luxuries of having a 24/7 tour guide in a new environment or having upper class friends made for you in advance.
I believe God created younger siblings with an inherent ability to force themselves to cry “crocodile tears” in times of crisis. Allow me to explain. When my sister and I were in elementary school, we lived on a farm, a farm with a swing set that fostered many arguments.
“Kristin, let me have a turn on the monkey bars,” Becca whined.
“Yeah right, you don’t even know how to do the monkey bars.”
“Yes I do! Let me on!”
“No. If you try I will just rip you off of them. You’re still a baby.”
“Well you’re….you’re….you’re a witch!”
Defeated, Becca turned on her tears and sprinted back to the house to tell my mom of the cruelties inflicted upon her. Knowing well Becca’s schemes and tattle-tale skills, I trudged back up to the house to receive my sentencing.
The punishment was usually preceded by a “You know better than that” speech from my mother. Tears from a firstborn just don’t seem to invoke the same kind of pity from parents as tears of the family baby, rendering me helpless in every fight.
Parents not only favor the younger child in arguments, but they also use the firstborn as a guinea pig for certain privileges or activities. If the oldest child can handle it, then the younger child will be allowed. And bonus, the younger child won’t have to wait to reach the same age the firstborn is.
In my family, I was also a test dummy for my parents with the issue of PG-13 movies. In my case, my parents believed that the “13” in the rating meant I should wait until I’m 13 to watch such films. I couldn’t argue with that.
I may have even been older than 13 when I saw my first one, Jurassic Park. Since my sister was still under age, it would have made sense for her to be excluded from the viewing. But in the name of an all-inclusive family night, my parents let my sister watch it with us, even though she was only 12.
I do not hold grudges about any of this, but I can think of one more instance of injustice: the age of ear-piercing. My mom thought it appropriate for me to wait until I was nine to have my ears pierced. But who do you suppose got to come to the piercing shop with me? My 7-year-old sister.
She would feel left out if I got my ears pierced and she didn’t. So in the name of “fairness,” however my parents chose to define it, Becca and I walked out of the shop that day with the same diamond studs in our ears.
This system of injustice endured by firstborns only adds to the negative personality traits they intrinsically possess. I have known myself long enough and been around plenty of firstborns to realize that our kind is not the most fun.
We are not relaxed, spontaneous, wild, easy-going, or adventurous – qualities people love to be around. Instead, we are easily stressed, and worrisome, and detail-oriented, and married to our planners, and opposed to change, and boring. Try making friends in 6th grade with a list like that.
In a culture that tells you, “Be impulsive,” “Go exploring,” and “Try new things,” a firstborn can inevitably feel a bit like an Amish in a metropolis.
Although I may sound a little bitter about my place in my family birth order, I do not loathe God or my parents entirely. There are many more baby pictures of me than there are of my little sister. I was my parents’ absolute favorite daughter from birth to age two. I have pictures and home videos to prove it.
Then my sister was born.