I am the oldest of six kids. I have two older half brothers as well but they’re much older so we didn’t grow up together. I was an only child for almost the first three years of my life so I can remember what it was like to have 100% of my parents’ attention on me.
I kind of like attention… a lot.
As you can imagine, once my sister was born I was a little jealous. I loved her and I eventually had a lot of fun playing with all my sisters. Now I can’t imagine my life without a single one of them. As a kid I didn’t always have that perspective though. It seemed like the only reason I ever got in trouble was because of fighting with my siblings. I used to tell my mom if it wasn’t for my sisters I’d have a perfect life.
Now I obviously know I was enough of a trouble maker that only child or not I would have been in my share of trouble. I still blame my siblings for a little bit of my evil though. It was because of my sister Elizabeth that I told my very first lie.
I don’t remember how old I was exactly, but it was only me and Liz so I couldn’t have been older than 4. She was old enough to sit on her own so I imagine she was probably around 1. Our living room was connected to the kitchen so my mom was cooking dinner while I played with Liz on our living room couch.
She was bugging me.
I don’t remember what she was doing exactly. Probably just being a normal baby. Whatever it was I’d had enough. I pushed her. And she fell off the couch.
I froze there not knowing what to do. I knew I was in big trouble. I’d just pushed my baby sister off the couch and now she was crying.
My mom rushed in from the kitchen,
And a little light bulb went off in my head. Oh, she doesn’t know…. and suddenly I blurted out,
“She just, uh…. fell….all by herself.”
My mom raised her eyebrows,
“Really? She just fell? She didn’t have any help?”
I can still feel the heat that went to my face as I denied any part in the matter once again. The very first realization that my mom couldn’t see everything and wasn’t everywhere felt empowering. I can still feel how my breath got quicker and more shallow and I can imagine that my eyes were wide and tilted up in a way that screamed guilt to my mom. She’s not dumb.
Now I know, she knew. My mom knew before she asked. My 3 or 4 year old self thought I was really clever though. I totally got away with it. But I was a sensitive little kid. From the moment the words escaped my mouth I felt guilty. By the time it was bed time and she was tucking me in I confessed. I burst into tears and said how sorry I was.
She didn’t punish me. I think she knew that the guilt I felt the whole day was punishment enough.
My sisters and I still had plenty more fights. I’m sure I pushed her down too many more times to count. I know I told more lies over the course of my childhood. Some I got away with, some I didn’t. For some reason that first one and the feelings that went with it have always stuck with me.
And don’t worry, my sister? Got even with me as soon as she was big enough to push back. Love you, Sis.