It just occurred to me that 5 generations (my granddaughter, my daughter, myself, my mother and my grandmother) are all the oldest daughters as well as the oldest children in the family.
When my mother's mother arrived in 1980 for her first return visit to Hawaii since 1935, Art and I brought our two children Tiffany and Jonathan from Chicago to meet her.
We realized that we had four generations of women there so we took this photo.
We lost my grandmother in 1998.
When KC was born four years ago we had four generations of women again.
It all got me thinking about what it means to be not only the oldest female, but the oldest child.
My mother says it is the tradition in Japan for the oldest girl to always take care of her younger siblings. There's even an honorific word for the oldest girl, onesan. My mother says her mother made her sisters call her that instead of her given name. However, as they got older, the sisters felt they were too close in age so reverted to just calling her Hirochan. Her name is Hiroko. The chan is a childish endearment. My grandmother always told her that as the oldest, it was her primary responsibility to cherish and protect her younger siblings. It was her duty.
Growing up, I'm pretty sure I was also trained to feel that way. Granted I may have taken it to extremes. My brother might tell you I could be bossy. It doesn't matter, since he doesn't always listen to me anyway. It doesn't help that he's smarter than me.
I remember almost three year old, Tif crying in her room when Jon was six weeks old. I asked her what was the matter and she said, "You don't love me anymore. You're not proud of me anymore. I don't want Jon. You can take him back to the hospital. I change my mind. I want a doggy."
I told Tif that Jon belonged to her. He would always be her responsibility to teach and protect. Her eyes lit up and she took it to heart with a vengeance. From that point on, it didn't matter how angry she might be with him; nobody, nobody was allowed to hurt or say anything bad about her baby brother. Even though they are now adults, she still watches over him like a hawk. And yes, she can be a trifle bossy too although you'd never notice it. However, she comes by that naturally.
And now here's KC. It'll be interesting to see how she turns out. Hmmm... maybe we'll get her a dog.
HAPPY EARTH DAY!!!
How embarrassing! I forgot to mention Earth Day! We did our part driving our Prius and using recyclable grocery bags.