Tips on Sisterly Love by Izzy Poole
Izzy Poole recalls learning that being the oldest, doesn't always mean being the eldest. Izzy is the eldest of 3 sisters.
When Ria asked me to write a piece on big sisters, I was well and truly stumped. I am the eldest of three girls, so I have plenty of experience being a big sis, but I had no idea what to say apart from how much I love having younger sisters and just how great it is all the time (just in case they’re reading). Of course the people I went to for advice were my sisters and after a long, painful and quite hit-and-miss, chat about their feelings on having a big sister, I managed to drag out a few focus points.
Here are my thoughts on some of the hurdles of being a big sister and how I’m handling some of these fun challenges, indeed some better than others. Enjoy :)
Finding balance between Mum and pal
I have very different relationships with my two sisters - being much more of a mother to the youngest and more of a friend to the middle. When we were all younger, I was very much the boss and led the games and activities, but as we’ve grown it’s become more of a two way street between us - yeah they throw the insults back now it’s great. This was, in all honesty, challenging to realise that perhaps I did not know best in every situation; a fact my egotistical seven year old self would never have believed. The first time my sister gave me advice definitely felt slightly backwards, but also very comforting as for once I was less of a motherly figure for her and more of a friend. Don’t get me wrong there are still times that the youngest needs me to be Mum number two - I’ve become quite apt at her English homework - but as she gets older our relationship is changing and we’re on more of an equal footing. It’s definitely a read the room type situ, if she’s crying over some absolutely paramount year eight friendship issues she’s definitely in need of a big spoon and some Mum-like wisdom. However, she really doesn’t need a hand holding when we cross the road anymore or a kiss goodbye when she goes off to see her friends - she has indeed become Miss Independent. I’m still fine tuning when to turn off the Mum switch, very much a work in progress, but now I know I can be more of a pal, maybe I won’t always have to be the big spoon.
Staying close when you’re not always nearby
I have always been quite a good problem solver with friendship issues, particularly for my middle sister. She had a bit of a rocky ride for a while at school and didn’t really have a friend who she could rely on throughout everything, so I became well versed in the ever changing groups and drama she came home from everyday. Since I’ve been at uni for these last two years, I’ve obviously been less able to physically be there for her at the end of a long day and trying to maintain this closeness and be someone she comes to about issues like this when I’m not there is undeniably challenging. Thanks to Facetime and Snapchat, because who doesn’t want a mugshot first thing every morning, it’s much easier than it used to be for us to stay connected, but you can’t help feeling a bit out of touch as she has to give the ten minute backstory for every issue because you weren’t there that week. Instead of snuggling in her bed to hear the gossip of each day, I now have to trust her to pick up the phone and come to me if she needs to and hope she always feels like she can. I’m by no means an expert but I think we find that a good mix of late night phone calls and texts with a healthy flow of memes on the side keeps us close while we’re further apart. Or maybe she just loves me more when I’m away so she can steal my clothes, who knows.
Role model? Or not
I think the eldest sibling is always considered a role model, whether a sister or a brother, but I’ve always felt quite responsible for setting an example for the little Pooles. Whether it’s exams, uni, tackling problems or making other big life decisions I do feel like the way I approach these situations does set a precedent for my sisters. On the whole, I feel really lucky I’m able to set a good example for them and be a positive role model - something I’d have loved to have when I was younger. Naturally, I then put pressure on myself to make only good decisions that they can draw from, which is definitely unrealistic because nobody is sensible all the time, let's be real. Also, when I make a big bad mistake it’s usually my sisters I turn to first about it; they give me some of the most frank and helpful (yet sometimes brutally honest) advice, in the way only a sibling can. Turns out this advice is exactly what I need when there’s been yet another development in my joke of a love life… Nobody can make perfect choices or be on best behaviour 24/7, so setting an expectation for a big sister to be the full time role model is definitely an impossible task. I reckon everyone needs an ice cream fuelled advice session from the little sisters once in a while, which may or may not ruin the role model facade, but will teach them that mistakes are fully acceptable and it’s how we learn from them that matters.