South Asian children can tackle a host of challenges that kids from other races probably don't have to go though. Our parents have the unreserved right to physically punish us, especially guys. And girls don't get off easily either. They come attached with a host of rules (most importantly curfew) that we guys fortunately don't have to go through.
Even after all these hurdles, there are some special bonus challenges reserved for the oldest child. After all, he (or she) is the "oldest one".
You Are Supposed To Be An Example.
Growing up my sister and I used to get into a lot of mischief. Unfortunately since I was the older one by just a minuscule distance I used to get most of the blame. Her defense could be limited to 'well bhaiyya was doing it' and that's it - off the hook. Meanwhile, I, on the other hand ...
"How can you do this? You are older, you are supposed to be setting an example! Tsk Tsk!"
Well, no one told me when I was five that playing football in the living room was a strict no-no. How am I supposed to know? Just because I am older, though, I am supposed to have a Book of Knowledge imprinted in me.
You are representing the family.
That's it. Bottom line. First child. Goes off to university. You are representing The Family. And if you go to a small town where there's not enough Bengalis, you are representing The Entire Bangladeshi Community. Never mind if you have not lived in Bangladesh ever. And if you ever go to a small community where there's not too many Muslims, now you are representing the entire Ummah!
Unwanted Attendee At Parties.
If you are the first child your parents are still young as you grow up, so they go out frequently and attend dawats, or parties, more often. Often very boring parties. Since the concept of calling a random person to babysit appears to be a foreign concept amongst desis, such parties always consist of a room of bored pre-teens sulking. And you would be lucky if the other house had a kid. At least then there was someone to talk to.
And now, there are some benefits of being the Oldest One.
Prior to my birth my mom went to her mother's place. After I was born and word was sent to my father, he arrived with a SUITCASE of toys. Your parents practically dote on you. I soon learnt that whenever I wanted a new toy (which was every other week) all I had to do was mention it to my parents along with an example of a recently completed household chore that I tried to do and the toy would be in my room the next day. Legos, Matchbox cars, soldiers, The Zoo Set, I had them all.
The second child - "oh here, have your brother's toys".
Siblings Worship You
Now that I think of it, I was an extremely mischievous child. I always thought up of all neat practical jokes I could play and innovative ways to get into trouble. And my sister became an ally, a guinea pig for all the tricks and plays I thought of. For some reason my siblings took every word of what I said as Gospel truth (unfortunately no more).
For instance in one Indian movie I saw how Anil Kapoor, playing a con, hypnotized this woman by waving his fingers to hand him over her life savings. So importing this idea, I told my sister it was possible to hypnotize mom into letting us have pizza for supper. I would of course, let my sister have the honour of doing the hypnotizing.
Needless to say, results were a bit different and none of us had pizza, or any dinner for that matter, that night.
Your Father Is Called By Your Name (By your mom)
Possibly reversing the trend of many cultures, your father now gets identified by your name. "Oh father of so-and-so". No matter how many siblings you have later, he is still your father.
Books of note: The Pecking Order: Which Siblings Succeed and Why by Dalton Conley
Tags: Siblings Desi