The Curse (and assignment) of the Eldest

Dwight James III
2 min readAug 31, 2022


My baby brother is 16.
My second youngest brother is working while going to school.
My middle sister and young-ish brother are both in college.

It’s been two years since I graduated from college and I am still learning how to see them as young adults. At some point in all of their lives, I’ve taken care of them. Changed them. Bathed them. Fed them.

Came to their rescue even if they disrespected me.

You’re the oldest for a reason Dwight. You have to set an example, Ma would chirp at least four times a week to check my temper. (Not much sets me off but when I get going, it’s hard to turn down.)

I don’t agree with the idea of being a perfect role model. We all have a dungeon that we don’t want anyone to visit. So, I lead my siblings from a distance. Step in when in necessary and don’t lecture (because I hate being lectured too). My siblings grew up much differently than I did so the standard isn’t lower or higher, just different.

Me leaving the house to live with our grandparents is different (but not far off) from my sister feeling the need to get a fresh start in college.

As the only girl in the house, she always sought (and still seeks) girlfriends that understand her. I don’t blame her.

We all want to be around people that get it.

My young-ish brother is at a small university where it’s hard to blend in and easy to get into the fast life. As someone who’s life is driven by sports, he was often told that he needed a plan B because of the NFL’s secondary nickname — Not For Long. Though football is in limbo with track, I’m sure that he’ll find his lane.

My second youngest brother is somewhere between working full time and being dragged into the military. Like our baby brother, he’s still finding his way.

My baby brother is, jokingly, my twin. His bursts of energy and outlandish thoughts are nothing short of weird yet necessary. Playing video games and fumbling through sports are the two things helping him work through the woes of growing up.

I don’t have much advice for any of them now because I just figured out how to intentionally build a habit. I want to save them from being broke and being broken and realizing how unforgiving the world is. However, I’d be blind-sighting them, making them ill-prepared to navigate the world.

And what kind of Big Brother would I be to make everything easy for them?

The same way they ask for anything else, they’ll ask for help if they need it.

They ain’t grown but they can figure it out.

I’m sure of it.



Dwight James III

Dwight James III is a poetographer, writer, & director from Jacksonville, FL. Every moment is a movie, no matter the length.