Growing up as the youngest in the family can be a struggle only another youngest child will understand. Other people will say to not be so petty, but they’re probably the people who bullied and still bully their younger siblings.
High school is one of the darkest times of our lives. It’s the period of rebellion, and the desire to be independent is strong. You want to go out with friends by yourself, not with someone else tagging along. Yet, the entire family have a hard time letting you go. You’re lucky if they finally let you ride the jeepney by yourself, and you can only wish you’ll arrive home unscathed or else.
Even as adults, the youngest siblings are still treated like a child, even without our parents and siblings noticing. It’s a habit they’ve acquired for decades, so it’s something they can’t shake off. We can just sigh, shake our heads, and accept our fate as the family’s bunso.
You always feel the need to prove that you’re old enough to manage your life. Look, I’m an earning individual who pays her taxes and lives independently! Look, I have savings (I don’t)! Look, I can commute back and forth to Manila by myself! Look at me, I’m all adult-like!
There’s a constant desire to show off how much you’ve grown in the past few years, that you’re running out of ways to do so. Maybe buying a car will do the trick. Maybe working in the corporate world will convince them. But who are you kidding? They will always think you still need help getting to the bus station.
No matter how much you’ve achieved in life, no matter how much you’ve grown, you will always be the family’s baby.
1. You have to assert that you’re a grownup. All the time.
Your family will always think of you as the snotty little kid who follows the older siblings everywhere. So when you start to step up and prove your worth as a capable individual, they still doubt you. They probably believe you’re only out for trouble. Again. Like that one time you broke the appliances in a department store. Like that one time you fell headfirst while playing. Doesn’t matter if it happened more than a decade ago, you can’t possibly have changed, right?
It’s not like they don’t trust your skills and talents, but they just can’t see past the little girl (or boy) they’ve been taking care of forever.
2. You will always be doted on in public.
I used to cringe when my father calls me “Bunso” or “Buns” in public, but I have adapted to it by now. I just hope that no one I know is anywhere nearby. But when they do call me Buns in the company of friends and acquaintances, I try to keep a straight face and wait for the floor to open up and eat me whole.
3. You will never win an argument so just admit defeat.
You will always be wrong and your older sibling will, of course, always be right. What do you mean you already finished your bachelor’s degree and already on your way to getting your master’s? You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. Just shut up because there’s no point arguing with the older sibling. How disrespectful of you to answer back!
4. You listen to your older siblings even when you don’t want to.
You really don’t want to get your older brother a glass of water, but one look from him and you’re scrambling downstairs to get that water. You can insist that you’re not a push over and you’re not created to follow their wiles and wishes. You can pout all day and stomp your feet in frustration, but you know you’ll still get that glass of water.
5. You can’t help but echo their opinions from time to time.
I really think that movie is great, but my sister doesn’t seem to think so. She can’t possibly be wrong, right? There’s probably something wrong with my opinion!
You grew up following their examples, and everything they say is the law. So when you start to form your own opinions, you can’t help but wonder if your ate or kuya agrees. Because if they don’t, you start to question your own judgment. It’s difficult to form your own mind about something when most of your life, there’s someone helping you with your own decisions.
6. You ask permission not just from your parents but also your older siblings.
They obviously have more say on what you do with your precious time. Before our dear parents decide whether to allow us to go to an outing, they ask ate and kuya first. Because what they have to say is a big deciding factor. Because they are the authority of fun and if they decide that you don’t deserve to go out and have fun, then you don’t.
7. You will always be the ugly one.
Older siblings will always find something to criticize about your clothes, no matter how carefully you put together your outfit. Even as you get older, you’ll still be called “pangit” even when you’re all dressed up. They’re probably just teasing, but no way in hell will they actually think you look great.
8. You feel like a responsible and dependable human being when they ask for your help.
Let me get a tissue because I think these are tears in my eyes. They actually trust me now? Did I actually do something right for once? The responsibility suddenly given to you can be so overwhelming that you’re challenged to step up and prove that you’re a valuable member of the family, too.
Despite our issues about being the youngest child, we know we don’t want it any other way. There are days when I have delusions of wanting to be the ate, so I can lord over a younger sibling, too. But at the bottom of my heart, I know that my family only do what they do because they love me.
I know that no matter what happens, they’ll always have my back.