First the worst, second the best…

“Awwwwww look at him.”
“He’s falling asleep.”
“Bless him, little angel.”
We were gathered around Nanna’s coffee table, which my one-year-old nephew had wearily stretched himself out on.
Everyone gazed at him fondly as he rubbed his eyes and curled into a ball.
A few minutes later, Nanna Ros called out that lunch was ready so we filed into the dining room – to find Master Seven sprawled out on the dinner table, pretending to be asleep.
A chorus of: “What on earth are you doing?” “Get off there now!” and “You should know better!” filled the room – which Master Seven ran from, blinking back tears.
It was only as soon as he left it dawned on us – in a bid to be cute, he was copying his little cousin.
This was a couple of years ago. He was actually Master Five then and slowly getting used to sharing the spotlight.
My first child and the first grandson on both sides, he had always been the ‘cute one’, the ‘cuddly one’…
The only one.
With wobbly teeth and chubby cheeks, even at five he was still fierce competition in the cuteness stakes.
But little did he know his cousin was only a small taste of what was to come.
To his credit, Master Seven has been nothing but a fan of his little brother since the moment he was born.
It’s only recently, five months down the track, the novelty that is Li’l Fatty is starting to fray at the edges.
Who is this fat little lump who gets to spit and squeal without consequence?
How come everyone thinks it’s adorable when he burps?
And why on earth does he get to go to bed later than me?
“You know you got the same attention as a baby that Li’l Fatty’s getting – more actually,” I explained to Master Seven, after I heard him tell his aunty nobody cared about him any more.
And when a 15th request for him to stop jumping into a photo turned into a screamed demand, I reminded him: “You were the only baby for a long time and we got so many photos of you by yourself. Shall I get out your baby album?”
Being an older sibling myself, I guess I can relate.
I know what it is to be branded the one who ‘should know better’, the one who ‘sets the example’.
But we firstborns seem to forget we were once the ‘cute ones’, the ‘cuddly ones’.
And, lucky for us, the only ones.
Sadly it’s only just the beginning for Master Seven.
As he transforms into an undoubtedly handsome but knobbly kneed kid with nit-ridden hair and protruding teeth, his plump little brother will sprout divine blond curls and the tiniest teeth imaginable.
Master Seven will watch on as Li’l Fatty learns to walk and talk, two of the cutest progressions any parent can bear witness to.
And he’ll see his Mummy’s delighted reaction, without remembering it was the same expression she wore when he took his own first wobbly steps.
But, in ten years time, when Master Seven gets behind the wheel of his first car to take his girlfriend to an 18th birthday party, he’ll realise being eldest isn’t that bad.
Because it’ll only be after he writes it off that the rules in our family about owning a car, having a girlfriend and going to parties will change – and Li’l Fatty will find out what it means to come in second.


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