An Oldest Child

The other day I bought an emergency preparedness 72 hour backpack. My 6-year-old daughter asked what it was for. Not wanting to scare her, I told her it was for small emergencies, like if she scraped her knee or if we needed to go somewhere quickly.

At that point my 8-year-old son jumped in, “Or, if there is a huge earthquake and our house topples down or a fire and it burns down.”

I told my son to stop talking as my daughter ran over to the couch, fingers plugging her ears and her face buried in the cushions.

“Nice. Cam.” I told him. “You scared her to death.”

“Well it’s true, Mom.” Cameron told me.

I then told him that he wasn’t allowed to talk about emergencies or disasters again with his sister even if it could happen, that it scared her and that I remembered being little and it scaring me too.

He rolled his eyes, so I threatened him this time.

“I mean it! I don’t want to hear you doing it again. That’s not funny. She is terrified. Not another word about it or you’re grounded.”

I thought it was really interesting that my young son wasn’t fazed at all at the thought of an emergency situation. In fact, I was somewhat relieved to know that we could count on him if something did ever happen to us. I took advantage of this knowledge when my daughter Meg walked out of the room.

“Cameron.” I told him. “If anything were to ever happen to mom or dad, take this backpack and get the kids to someone who could help you. Ok?”

Cameron nodded his head impatiently while trying the backpack on for size. “Ok. Ok I get it.”  He then turned to me. “OK Mom I know you said that I can’t bring the emergency stuff up again with Meg, but could we please just do it one more time?” He pleaded.

“Why?” I asked him.

“Oh, I want you to tell Meg who’s in charge if something happens to you and Dad.” He then looked at me and nodded knowingly and excitedly. “It’s me, right mom?! I’d be in charge right?!”

I shook my head, not knowing whether I should ask him what was wrong with him or reassure him that nothing was going to happen to Dad and I. This time, I went with the "better parenting" option of reasurring him instead of the “judgmental parent option" and telling him he may be a bit crazy.  

“Cam, don’t worry that’s never going to happen. Dad and I are going to be just fine.”

Cam looked almost hopeful when he replied, “I know, I know. . . but it could happen! You might not be fine.”

Forget better parenting, I should have just asked him what was wrong with him.

Cameron continued. “Ok Mom, so could you just go get Meg really quick and tell her that I’m in charge if something happens to you guys?”

I had to laugh. That’s an oldest child for you. In his little power hungry mind, it didn’t matter one bit that if he were ever in that situation it would mean that his parents would be dead. No, what was important was that his little sister know that he was in charge when we die.”

I realize now that it may have been a mistake to have that conversation with him. I’m sleeping with our bedroom door locked from now on.


Kate is a mom to three (almost four), one of ten children and writer in her spare time (which is why it takes her four years to write a book instead of four months). She loves being rejected so much that she continues writing. Currently, Kate writes for the uplifting section on She has written a couple of books as well as a screenplay. The screenplay won part of a contest in LA for the "Next Best Movie Idea". Currently she is turning that screenplay into a book. . . look for it in four years.  

Read more of Kate's writings at


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