Childhood Family

The unreasonable demands of big sisters

If there is one thing that a little brother can’t stand, it’s his big sister telling him what to do. I am reminded of this roughly 54,00 times a day.

This was on exhibit recently when I was at the movies with my kids and my two nephews, who are both seven. I opted to take four kids to the movies because I am a brave, brave man.

We entered the theater and found an empty row, one that didn’t have a lot of folks behind us. I was trying to be strategic in the seating as I know that sometimes smaller moviegoers have a hard time not reminding everyone of their presence.

I told the kids to take their seats, and I would go get some popcorn. As I stood in line, I saw my son approaching. The look on his face told me trouble was brewing.

“Allie’s trying to make me sit where I don’t want to,” he said.

“Well, last time I checked she’s 13, and I’m in charge, so I’ll make that call. You stay here with me and help me get snacks,” I said.

The woman in front of me turned and said that this appeared to be a sibling conflict. Indeed.

I told her that Parker did not take kindly to such egregious affronts as being given a seating edict by his older sister. “Parker,” I said, “you only have to get bossed around by one big sister. Remember that I have three of them.” He thought on that for a while and then decided that we had at least done him that favor.

Yes, I know all too well what it is like to have big sisters tell you what to do. All of my life growing up, my sisters barked commands at me. And oftentimes they were completely unreasonable things, such as stop running through the house naked, particularly when their friends were over. See? Completely unreasonable.

For her part, Allie will often defend her commands by starting with these three simple words: “I was just…” followed by some explanation that, more often than not, actually has some validity to it. In this case, she was just trying to keep a nice buffer between the little boys so they did not begin acting out fight scene sequences they hoped would be in the Captain America movie.

When I returned to the theater with Parker and popcorn, I found our row. Allie knew that I was back to assume command, and that she was now relieved of her order giving status. I assigned the seats, with me in the middle. This reason was two-fold:

1. I could control the popcorn distribution. This is a critical role when you have five people, at least three of whom should have probably washed their grubby little paws before we sat down.

2. I figured with two on either side of me, all four of the kids were within reach should I need to lean over and whisper encouraging words of settling down lest our fellow patrons turn on us.

Fortunately, those were few and far between. The movie was action packed a plenty, which kept everyone engaged. And I believe there was only one bathroom trip needed, which I think is probably a record for movie going with four kids.

On the ride home, the boys did learn what the term “spoiler alert” means, and that even if your friend at school told you a twist in the movie, you should never, ever announce it to the theater. Just a little basic etiquette.

We had a good time, and I really do enjoying taking the whole crew to things such as this. I get to be fun dad and fun uncle all in one big package of awesome. I’m sure a cool movie will be on the horizon soon, and I’ll load up the gang for another round. My only concern, of course, when I take my nephews places is that their moms will try and tell me what to do. You know how big sisters are…

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.

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