Dear Oldest Child,
I know you were born before you siblings and because of that, you knew how things worked around here and felt the need to show them the ropes. I get it. You can be possessive, territorial, and a bit controlling like a lot of other kids who share your title.
And while I appreciate your “help,” I need to let you in on a little secret: you don’t know everything.
When you were younger, I thought being the Town Crier was something you’d tire of. I was wrong, though. As you’ve grown up and become a teenager, it’s not just your siblings you feel the need to preach to, teach, and correct. Now, I fall under your “teaching” umbrella and let me just say, it’s annoying as hell.
You know I’m the person who was almost in her third decade of life when she gave birth to you, right?
I get that you have had to do a lot of firsts with me before your siblings and for that reason, you feel it’s your place to be the bearer of all the news. There’s also the fact I gave birth to your brother and sister, so you can let me handle them, okay?
I implore you to remember I have a lot of years on you. I’ve done everything you’ve done in your life a lot earlier, and a few times over at that, so I’ve got some good practice under my belt.
Lying to my mom about where I’ve been? Check.
Lying to my mom about where I’m going right before I leave? Check.
Trying to blame a teacher because I didn’t do what I was supposed to do? Check.
Thinking I’m invincible and taking risky chances only to have them blow up in my face? Check.
Talking like I know about something I’ve never actually done before? Check.
I’ve walked in your shoes and I know the signals. So when you tell me you are “just going for a ride with friends,” I know something is up. One simply doesn’t go for a leisurely, safe drive with friends as a 16-year-old.
And when I tell you you better be safe, and you shrug it off because you think you’re invincible and nothing will ever happen to you, it shows me something.
It shows me that you don’t, in fact, know all you claim to know. If you did, you wouldn’t dismiss my advice about not driving like an asshole.
I may not know all the cool terms you and your friends know these days. I may struggle with SnapChat and make you cringe when I get the name to a popular song wrong. And for the record, I actually do know (according to you) everyone in the world except you and your siblings have AirPods, while y’all are “stuck with the generic brand,” but I also know something else: there’s three of you and I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend that kind of money on something you’ll stick in your ears and lose anyway.
I know if you earn the money to buy them for yourself, you’ll care for those ear buds (that must be made out of gold) a lot better.
I am aware of the dangers of teenage driving, especially when you are with your friends.
I know I’m not the coolest person in your world and you think your life would be better if I was more laid back.
But I know it wouldn’t be.
I know how to raise you and your brother and sister. You can retire yourself from that duty right now.
Oh, and for the record, I do know how to grocery shop, how to tell when you are lying, and how to budget the money I work hard to make (hence no AirPods).
So, my dear oldest child, while I love you with my whole heart and appreciate that face we’ve been through many first together and you’ve seen me struggle more than your brother and sister have, you don’t know everything.
You don’t have it all figured out. You don’t have life in the bag. I hope you realize soon we are all evolving creatures who never stop growing or learning unless we choose to put ourselves on autopilot because we think we already know it all.
You have a lot to learn from others so sit back, let someone else do the teaching. Just because you were born first and feel the need to be in charge all the time, doesn’t mean you have to be in that role all the time.
Do us all a favor, including yourself, and be vulnerable enough to admit you don’t always have to have all the answers because really, none of us do. It will just make you a better human.
Love, your mother (someone who really does know a thing or two).