I am a middle child. I hold the unique role of both little sister and big sister. I was teased, harassed, and protected by an older brother, and together we teamed up to tease, harass, and protect our little sister. I could tell you a million and a half ridiculous stories of childhood with my siblings, but more important than the time my sister broke my brother’s toe over a bag of potato chips are the lessons I learned from growing up as one of three kids. There were a million moments when I wished I was an only child- I’d have all the attention and I’d never have to share my toys- but in the end, I learned more from having siblings than I ever would as an only child, and I’m so thankful.
1. Life’s not fair. One of the most important lessons in life is learned early on with siblings. Life is not fair. Your brother got more cookies and your sister got more attention- that’s a small representation of how the world works. You won’t always get what you want just because people around you do. Your coworker will get a raise and your friend will win the lottery. You may feel jealousy, frustration, and irritation, but your childhood trained you to understand that life is not fair.
2. Being competitive isn’t a bad thing. Growing up as one of three children, I learned to be competitive. I learned that I had to find my own unique abilities and talents to stand out. Whether it was SAT scores or backyard wiffle ball, I learned to fight hard. Siblings possess a natural sense of competition with each other, which forces you to try hard and to grow into a competitive adult who works hard to achieve what you deserve.
3. Sharing is caring. Especially as an older sibling, you learn at a very young age how to share. When that new baby came home from the hospital, everything had to be shared- your bedroom, your toys, your parents’ attention. The baby got all your old clothes and toys, and if you were especially lucky, your parents taught you the value of sharing fashion sense by dressing you in matching outfits. “Sharing is caring” was drilled into your head from an early age, and you were very prepared to share your crayons when you started school, as opposed to the only children in your class who were sharing for the first time.
4. No one understands you the way your siblings do. As an adult, you realize that your siblings will know you better than anyone else. They saw every ridiculous thing you ever wore as a child, they remember all the bizarre games you made up, they know that you watched Disney Channel well into middle school. They were the ones right beside you as you got in big trouble, they were there when your most embarrassing moments happened, they know your deepest childhood secrets. Unlike any friend or significant other, your siblings are the only ones who truly understand your family. You all went through the same painful deaths and family crises, you all have the same crazy family members. They grew up right beside you, and this provides a unique and unbreakable bond. You may not be best friends with your siblings, but they sure understand where you came from.
5. You don’t fully appreciate anything until it’s too late. Every time my siblings and I fought and declared our pure hatred for each other, our parents would chime in with exactly what we didn’t want to hear- “you guys will appreciate each other someday!”. We would roll our eyes and continue slapping and kicking and bickering. How could one possibly appreciate someone so downright annoying? These two people know how to drive me insane, my insecurities, and my past. One day, after I’d moved out and no longer lived under the same roof as my brother and sister, I realized how much I had loved it all. I loved the bonding that occurred when I would team up with one sibling to annoy the other. I loved when we’d all team up against our parents and sneakily persuade them to stop for ice cream. I loved waking up hours before our parents on Christmas morning and just staring at the mounds of presents, all three of us getting along for a few short hours. We all hate to admit when our parents are right, but my parents were right- I now appreciate the two people who have annoyed me the most. We grew out of the bickering phase, we no longer live under the same roof, and I now see them for the people they are. I see tints of the children I grew up beside, I see shades of our parents, and I see bits of myself in both of them. We are three versions of the same DNA, and we may still fight over the stupid little things and know exactly how to set each other off, but I can now truly appreciate these people and the years we had together.