This post goes out to all firstborns in African households. By firstborn I mean that you are a first child in that family (the first to be born), and as a first child there are things you go through that other children just won’t understand… Others will not feel your pain, when you are acting…
This post goes out to all firstborns in African households. By firstborn I mean that you are a first child in that family (the first to be born), and as a first child there are things you go through that other children just won’t understand…
Others will not feel your pain, when you are acting all silent and moody, then someone says… “Oh! She’s the first born” and another person says “No wonder…”
And when you’re wondering why your junior ones are getting all the cool nicknames (like Prince), but you got the most traditional names in your village (Olatunji Olakunle Bright Jnr)… and still the pastor made sure your baptismal name is AUGUSTUS
And when you read the bible story of Jacob and Esau, and Esau lost his birthright, but somehow Esau is still the bad guy for being hungry…
Sometimes the society doesn’t realize the subtle oppression it puts you through..
But this post will surely feel your pain. This post will bring your silent struggles to light. Your many silent struggles. And why you struggle so.
Saying firstborn is a hell of a lot tiring so I’ll just shorten it to FIBI, so dear readers, anytime you see FIBI in this post, know that it means firstborn okay? Let’s go…
1. The Pregnancy
Being FIBI means you were the first pregnancy your parents ever had to deal with, and with the first pregnancy comes the most anxiety and fear.
Which means when you were conceived, your mother was anxious because she was new to the experience of pregnancy. ..
Before, she was thinking of new shoes and hairstyles and P Square’s album is coming out next week…
now she is gaining weight, her hormones are dancing, all these people want to touch her belle…
When you were conceived as FIBI, your father was new to the responsibility and the changes as well.
Before he was thinking of English Premier League and Buhari’s new budget…
now he’s thinking of Pampers and School Fees and Praying his wife is okay.
This atmosphere of anxiety could haunt you forever.
Now, because your parents were new to the experience of having you, there were probably more mistakes in raising you than raising your junior ones. (You know, from lack of experience)
As FIBI you are “the experiment baby”.
Your parents did not understand much about your growth. Your younger brothers and sisters did not feel this because your parents had built up the experience from having you.
I’ll give an example, when FIBI starts teething, because the mother is new to the experience, she might think
“What the hell is happening to my child? Why is there Saliva everywhere?”
But when the second or third born starts teething, she can tell the difference because
“Oh Junior is teething, I remember when it happened to FIBI.”
This is why the second and third borns may be growing faster than you, even though you’re eating the same food. They know how it works now.
3. Forbidden Fruit
In our African society, where more people have premarital sex than they like to admit; some marriages are preordained by pregnancy.
After impregnating baby girl, the only acceptable social alternative for big daddy is to marry her. In such situations, many parents see FIBI as the reason for their marriage..
and if such relationships turn bitter, you will be the reason for their problems.
“If I didn’t get pregnant with you, I wouldn’t be in this mess”
Why are they blaming you for a problem you did not cause?
4. The Responsibility
As FIBI, you are expected to be the next authority figure in the house. When the parents leave, you are expected to be the ‘man of the house’ or ‘woman of the house’.
You are expected to be in check of your siblings at all times. And if they do not behave, you are the one to take the blame. All this on your small head.
As FIBI, when you get a junior brother or sister you are expected to nurture them as well. You are supposed to be the ‘third parent’ of the kids. Their second daddy, Their second mummy.
You see, as a child, you are naturally programmed to see your siblings as competition. You’re thinking “Who is this other baby? And why is Mommy showing them more attention than me?” But you need to fight your programming, and protect them.
“Why wont you share? Don’t you know she’s your baby sister?”
Sometimes, Favouritism comes into play, and FIBI will feel isolated in their own home.
Don’t forget, FIBI is supposed to get married before their junior ones.
As FIBI, you need to marry quickly in order to give your brothers and sisters a chance. Why? Because you are FIBI of course, and this is Africa.
This is what I like to call, the FIBI Time Limit™
5. The Only Child
The only child is the double wahala of this discussion, because not only are you a first child, you are the center of attention. You are a product of anxiety that carries your entire life. Not only are you privy to all the conditions mentioned above, but now, you are the ‘only hope’ of the family.
‘Only’ daughters will rarely ever have suitors that please their parents, because it’s not about the suitor, it’s the harsh reality of seeing their only daughter go. And yet, ‘only’ children are primed from childhood to breed and breed quickly and vastly.
As an only child you are prone to more and more acts of rebellion to escape your confines. Because you’re in a situation where you always feel judged, you may lash out in different ways, especially in teenage years.
Sometimes you know that your actions will be without much consequence,
“What can daddy do to me sef, am I not the only child?”
As the only child you are the most likely to explore the unknown.
Look, there is no solution to being a firstborn, as it is not a problem. It is a God given position, so you have to act accordingly. Make that position your own.
There are studies that say FIBI are the most intelligent children. So there’s that. But remember this intelligence only comes from being able to teach your younger ones.
If you’re a parent that treats your first child in the ways I’ve mentioned, it doesn’t make you a bad parent. This life thing can be confusing at times, but hopefully a little understanding can make a difference.
Thanks for reading.
Image via CoolMomPicks.com