My eldest daughter is a little whirlwind of energy. The confident, adventurous trailblazer that all firstborns are. But does it come at a price? Because at every activity, day out, sports event and party there is a little figure two steps behind her, trying to keep up.
The trouble with being the second child
The problem with being the second child is that by the time you turn up, someone has already cornered the market. They’ve wrapped your parents around their little finger and paved their way in the world. They’ve got friends, hobbies and habits that you just have to go along with. So that’s what you do.
The other day, we had taken our eldest to yet another sports club. She has a problem with her sight that has made it really difficult for her to learn to catch a ball. So when she asked to play cricket, it seemed like the perfect activity for her.
But yet again, it meant her little sister tagging along. So, Libby went off to play cricket and my husband and I enjoyed a well earned Friday evening beer. And little Lia hung around, getting bored and asking the other children around the side of the pitch to play with her. Some did, some didn’t but she managed to keep herself entertained for an hour. Until a delighted smile lit up her face when she saw her sister coming back.
Shaping her character
My husband and I were chatting after cricket about the fact that he felt sorry for Lia. Yet again, she was hanging around trying to entertain herself while her sister had fun. But over the past few months I’ve seen her personality develop in an incredibly positive way. And I think this trailing around after her sister has had a lot to do with it.
Because being the second child means learning to cope with boredom. It means being brave and talking to other children, putting yourself out there and making friends. Living in her sister’s shadow is just the thing that makes her own light shine brighter.
This little girl is becoming confident, chatty and outgoing. She has a wicked sense of humour and an ability to make anybody laugh. She’s strong-willed, laid back and yet feisty when she needs to be. And she is her big sister’s best friend.
The double act
Much as it can’t be easy living in her sister’s shadow, Lia has made it work. Actually, they both have. Because however much the eldest gets the monopoly on family firsts, after school activities and parents’ attention, there’s always enough love to go around.
Today, the whirlwind of energy and life that is Libby turns five. She’s having an expensive bike and a plethora of other amazing gifts that will eventually make their way to Lia as hand-me-downs. But the best gift we ever gave her was the little sister who has grown to be her best friend.
Happy birthday Libby, we love you – and your shadow.