In every African home, being the first child comes with great responsibility. It means you have to start preparing to shoulder all the responsibilities in the home. It involves being accountable and responsible at all times.
From the moment you become a teenager, the word “responsibility and leader become your second names. You are expected to be responsible for everything that happens to your siblings and the home in general even in your absence.
You are the first to get questioned or flogged if anything goes amiss in the house. Even when you have no idea of the whereabouts of something missing, you are supposed to find it.
The first child automatically plays the role of father and mother in the absence of his/her parents. The other children in a home look up to the first child for guidance and advice.
Most times, they have to go through the first child to table their requests to their parents. Whatever step the first child takes, is followed directly behind by the others; whether good or bad. When the parents are old and retired, the first child invariably becomes the sole provider for the family.
Life as a first child is not an easy one, especially for the girl child. At a tender age, the first girl child is trained to be a leader, supervisor, director, disciplinarian, coordinator, nanny, cook, cleaner and housewife.
She is taught to make sacrifices for others. As a first child, any offence committed by your siblings is linked to you without hesitation because you are supposed to be responsible for their behaviour.
In my own home, being the first child hasn’t always been rosy. When I was little, I spent more time with my dad. My father loved me so much that he practically spoilt me. I had everything I asked for and I even went everywhere with him.
Of course, my mum was never comfortable with the amount of attention my dad showered on me. She feared I would eventually become lazy and spoilt.
Whenever my entire family went back for any festive season, my mum would drill me to exhaustion. She made sure that I had the biggest portion of chores to do. She even carried me around like her handbag.
I was constantly in the kitchen with her preparing food for a large house. Whenever we went to the farm or the stream, I was often given the heaviest load to carry while my siblings carried lighter loads or nothing at all.
As a child, I always thought my mother hated me! Why would she give me so much work to do if she didn’t hate me? I often asked myself. Every time, I saw my siblings playing around, I would say to myself “Maybe I was adopted.” I couldn’t believe I was truly a biological child of my parents. I didn’t know she was grooming me to become a better and stronger person in the future.
Now, that she’s gone, I appreciate all her efforts; I know she only meant the best for me. She was just preparing me for a tough world! I am who I am today because of my parents. I didn’t understand why I was always being pushed to the extreme until I became an adult.
As an adult, I started understanding that I was the leader of a pack; it was my duty to lead and provide for my siblings. It suddenly makes total sense now! I am a shepherd to my siblings. I’m proud to be the first child of my family and I hope my family is proud of me too.
As the first child in my family, I have learnt a lot of things:
1. I learnt to be responsible and mature.
2. I learnt how to be patient and resilient.
3. I learnt to be caring and helpful.
4. I learnt how to be a mother.
5. I learnt how to provide for others.
6. I learnt to be hardworking and independent.
7. I learnt how to be creative and productive.
8. I learnt to serve others.
9. I learnt how to make sacrifices.
10. I learnt how to be appreciative.
11. I learnt to be proud of myself.
Being the first child in my family is the best gift God ever gave to me in my life. It taught me how to be patient and hardworking. It helped me learn to give and not to expect from others. It made me embrace the act of putting others first before myself.
Although some days could be stressful, exhausting and frustrating, it’s totally worth it. I derive joy from seeing smiles on the faces of people that I’m responsible for and the people I’ve been able to help in my own little way.
I am proud to be a first child, I hope you are too. Leave a comment if you really are!