An Open Letter to My Younger Siblings

First of all, hey. If you are reading this and you’re not my younger sister and brother, then this is a little awkward. But maybe you also have younger siblings. Or maybe you are a younger sibling. So perhaps you will also relate to this letter.

To my younger siblings,

You might not be aware of this, but it’s obvious to me and it’s obvious to our parents, that you guys had easier childhoods. By the time the two of you popped out, our parents were seasoned veterans who needed no outside help or parenting books. Mom didn’t know a single lullaby when I was a baby, but two and a half years later, when you (my sister) were born, she had multiple CDs of nursery rhymes and could recite them all by heart. And later when the boy came along, it was second nature. The same went for kids’ books and toys — the whole shebang.

But at the same time, I’m the only one of us who got that coveted “only child” treatment, though I can’t remember anything from the ages of 0 to 2, so perhaps it evens out in the end. For two blissful years, I got all the attention and love.

You guys got better toys. That one’s not entirely your fault, though. It’s a combination of toys getting cooler as we got older (and thus, I outgrew them) and the fact that as our family matured, we were able to afford nicer toys. So while I was lucky to get one Barbie doll for my birthday, by the time it rolled around to you two turning the same ages, you got an army of Webkinz and the latest DS games. I had to wait till college to get my first smartphone. You (my brother) got one at 12. You guys got more lenient rules and less chores. Once again, not your fault. As our family matured and learned, they rectified past rulings and adapted their policies. Too bad I was already gone when that time came around.

But don’t think this letter is one huge complaint.

Yes, the pressures on me in school were harder and still are harder. Yes, I had to be the one to go to high school first, take AP exams first, meet our parents’ expectations first, apply for college first, move into a dorm first, try to navigate the world on my own first. It’s scary, I’m not going to lie. I often wish that I had an older sibling who could do all that and help me out. The expectations on me were very high and the pressure was even higher. I’ve made many mistakes on my path, but I’ve learned. And our parents learned. We will guide you guys not to make those same errors.

But in a way, the fact that I had to forge the path first did not make things especially easier for you. After all, while you two can follow the steps I’ve made, you ultimately need to create your own path; and you are doing it.

I’ve had the privilege of knowing the two of you for all of your lives and I’ve watched you grow from mischievous little children to still mischievous teenagers. We’ve been through a lot together — gotten in trouble, covered up for each other, gotten into fights, made up some fantastic games, traveled the world, bonded over movies, sang some epic duets, traded Pokémon, helped pick Instagram filters. I’ve taught you guys what I know. I will give you advice when you ask; whether or not you take it is up to you.

Love,

Petrana