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Advice For A Second Child, From An Older Sibling

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Dear Sibling: It's me, your older sibling. I am here to welcome you to the family. I know you met the two others first, but that's just a formality. It's like greeting the company receptionist before you meet the CEO. I'm the one who can give you the whole picture. I'm the one you have to listen to, look to, and frankly, impress. There's a lot for you to learn, so let me give you some older sibling advice.

I don't mean to be rude, and I love you, but I've spent a while getting things just the way I like it around here, so I can't have you messing it up. But I believe in you, kid. I think you can be a real asset to Team Me, but you have to know what's up. After all, everything is very delicately balanced as it is.

To be honest, it wasn't my call to bring you on board. I had nothing to do with it, though I've overheard the two of them saying how important it was to give me a younger sibling. Like, I don't hear them talking about how important it is for them to get me a trampoline, but I think that's very important. Anyway, I'm working on that one, but I digress. Point is, you're here now and we have to work together (if for nothing else, to secure that trampoline), so here are some of rules about the way things run around here:

They Were Mine First

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I really cannot stress this enough. I made those people parents so, basically, I own them. I'm happy to welcome you here, but make no mistake: you serve at my pleasure. If this arrangement is to continue, it's absolutely crucial for you to know your place, because I will not hesitate to send you back if I must.

Do Not Touch My Stuff

The toys. The clothing. The woman's breasts. Sure, I haven't used those in a while, but they're still mine. (Sometimes I still like to stick my hand down her shirt because, as you'll learn, it's soothing.) It's very simple: what's yours is mine... and what's mine is mine. I would say, "When in doubt just assume it's mine," but, honestly, there should never be any doubt that it's literally all mine.

You Are The Sidekick

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When we wind up in coordinated costumes (and we will, because mom is like that), you will be the Batman to my Robin. The R2-D2 to my C3PO. The The Thing 2 to my Thing 1.

When it comes to working together, please understand that I am older, wiser, and more experienced. I am a natural executive, both in my individual personality and as an oldest child. As such, you will be "number two." Don't see this as a consolation prize. See this as an opportunity. There's a lot to be said for a support role. Basically you'll be part of what makes my endeavors extra successful. You're so lucky. I almost wish I was you. Almost.

If We Team Up We Can Take Them

One big benefit to you being here? Our numbers are more even now. When it was just me and them I could hold my own, sure, but they always had a slight advantage. But now that you're on the scene it's going to be classic "divide and conquer."

Honestly, I Don't Think They Know What They're Doing

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Yes, they're dear people and I love them very much. And they're really wonderful caregivers. But, sometimes, I get the impression that they're winging it just a little bit and they're terrified I'm going to find out.

Oh. I'm catching on, and I'm figuring out ways to exploit this.

Poop As Soon As They Change You

They love this. They think it is so funny they will skip laughing all together and just burst into tears. Everyone is a winner here.

Wake Up Every Few Hours

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They miss you. They'll want to see you. Give them, like, an hour, maybe two, and then start wailing. You're going to have to go at it really loudly though, because they've fallen asleep (probably as a way to past the time, since they obviously miss you so much). I suggest doing this for the first couple years.

Do Not React The Same Way To The Same Thing Twice

They really love nothing more than to be kept on their toes, so even if you feel some comfort in routine and continuity, I'm going to stress the importance of fighting that urge. For example, if, when the time comes to start solids, you find you really love your first bite of apricots, you're going to want to go ahead and spit it out the second time you try it. This keeps their lives interesting, and they really do need to be entertained every hour of every single day.

We Can't Both Lose Our You-Know-What At The Same Time *Too* Often

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So if I'm throwing a tantrum, please be good. And if you're having a moment, I'll restrain myself. Because, like, they're resilient and determined but also sort of fragile and I'm pretty sure too much will send them over the edge.

Clothing Tags Are Trying To Kill You

If you feel one so much as graze the back of your neck you're going to have to lose your sh*t immediately. Do not let up until one of them has cut the tag out.

This is for your safety. I'm looking out for you.

Chaos Is A Ladder

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"Chaos isn't a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but they refuse. They cling to the realm or the gods or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is."

Honestly, I have no idea what that means but I was pretending to be asleep once while they were watching Game of Thrones and overheard that monologue and it felt like good advice at the time so I've been rolling with it because what are we, children, if not small agents of total chaos?

We Will Need To Give Them The Occasional Win

A picture where we're both smiling at the same time. An easy afternoon. A quiet evening playing together. From time to time I will hug you and say how much I love the new baby and, like, you're fine, but this is a performance for them so that we can more effectively manipulate them. I need you to get in on this, too, because it will ultimately benefit us both. Ya gotta play the long game, kid.

You'll Like It Here

Photo courtesy of Jamie Kenney

From what I remember of "the old apartment" it was cozy and a bit cramped by the end, but a lovely place to grow up. But out here is nice, too. And if you follow all of my rules, I think you're going to dig it.