8 Things I Learned About Growing Up in a Big Family
It’s simply a function of the times that when a family walks past with eight children in tow, people tend to do a double-take. Families that large just aren’t the norm anymore. Others have written about the comments they get when people see the whole family together; I’m not here to preach on that topic. As the oldest of eight, I distinctly remember writing in my diary when I was much younger that I wished I was an only child, so I’m not exactly innocent on the negative commentary front. Life in a big family is often everything that outsiders think it is: loud, overwhelming, crazy and exhausting. But it’s also so much more than they will ever know. I have learned so much from the little world I grew up in; what follows is only a small sample.
- You will be as different as night and day.
You will fight with your sister because she’s so happy all the time and you just want to hate the world in peace. But when things get rough, you can provide each other with balance and a new point of view that will—more often than not—lead you to a better solution than either of you would’ve reached alone.
- You will also be so similar it’s scary.
One day, you’ll look at your little sister and realize she’s you in miniature, right down to the antisocial attitude and unnecessary angst about boys. And you’ll never find another group of people that gets all your jokes and understands exactly how quotes from Peter Pan transcend the amusing and become the funniest things you’ve ever heard.
- Your siblings are probably cooler than you.
Even though you’re the oldest, the woman of the world, the cool college kid, your brother will be polite, well-dressed, well-read, but just goofy enough to not be boring. Little old ladies will adore him and he’ll probably be a better dancer than you. But the joke’s on him; you’re the real winner here, because you have the coolest, kindest, most dependable brother in the world, and he doesn’t.
- They can’t always tell you how much you mean to them.
You’ll call home and your sister won’t want to talk to you and you’ll jokingly ask why she doesn’t love you anymore. But then you’ll come home for a visit and she’ll hug you every chance she gets and cuddle up next to you on the couch at night and you’ll realize that maybe words are overrated.
- They imitate everything you do.
You’ll turn on the Women’s World Cup and start yelling at the referees, and your little brother will sit and watch and yell with you, even if he doesn’t really understand the finer points of the game. He’ll become a soccer expert overnight and you’ll get annoyed. Don’t. He just wants to be like you, and there’s no higher form of flattery.
- They wear you out.
They will have so much more energy than you ever do and you’ll spend most of your time at home wishing that they could just be a little quieter. You’ll sleep late and they’ll tease you because it’s not even morning anymore and you’re just waking up. But all that movement and energy will keep you young and active because your little sister won’t let go of your arm until you teach her how to pass a soccer ball.
- They are the thing you miss the most.
You’ll see a picture of a cute baby on the internet, and all you’ll want is to be home again with your baby sister, even though she’s not a baby anymore; she’s three years old with a six year-old’s vocabulary and an imagination that sometimes makes your head spin. And when you do come home she’ll have learned new words and grown up even more and you’ll wonder where your baby went. And then she’ll look into your eyes and shriek your name and nothing matters except she’s back in your arms.
- And finally, they are irreplaceable.
Every single one of them is a blessing and you can’t imagine your life any other way. That is, I no longer wish to be an only child. And honestly, I never really did.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: VICTORIA NELSON
As of summer 2015, I’m a rising junior at the University of Dallas in Irving, TX. I’m studying Philosophy, with an eye on a possible double major with English. I’m not sure what exactly I want to do with that yet, but I know I want to change the world, so I write a lot and talk even more. I have a lot of ideas that I’m excited to share with people. I try to be a writer, and I fancy myself a philosopher, but mostly I’m just a lover of life.