🕵🏼 First in Might: The Plight of the Big Sister

big sislede

I warned Madison last week about today.

I’m writing about you Monday, I said. Dear Lord, she said. About what? I answered, Details of potty training, as we drove to school, just the two of us (Marie stayed home “sick.”) I’m going to tell about how we had to give you pee-pee prizes.

And how you still have to? she quipped.

I love that girl. Quick with the wit. First, sometimes, in fact. Being first has its advantages. Being second and third in the sisterhood line behind a big sis like Madison? There are huge advantages to that, too.

reset 119

With age comes great responsibility? Relative age, anyway. My eldest daughter taught her sisters so much she might not even realize! I’m just being in a position of automatic authority. They’re so much better for it.

Sometimes, the little two aren’t hyper-appreciative. Sometimes, the little two gang up on the big one. Imagine two allosauruses jumping a T-rex.

They’re brutal, sometimes. Madison might wear the biggest cleats in the house, but, like that full-grown golden lab who thinks she’s still a lap dog, Madison remains at her core an under-6, kindergarten sweetheart.

This puts her at a disadvantage – a tender heart among two coyotes she helped to rear.

Here are five gifts, Madison, you’ve bestowed upon your sisters.


reset 134Had you never worn the red jersey of the mighty U6 Clear Creek Red Raptors, what would I even write about?

Adventures and misadventures with teams called Frogs, Tigers and Mysteries (coolest soccer team name ever?) unfolded in front of your sisters – who sometimes even paid attention. With any luck, to this day, any scrum that breaks out in the households a soccer ball between three kicking Valkyries.


reset 111You forged through as a kindergarten pioneer, thriving, cutting and coloring from your first day, despite the tears (okay, they were mine.)

You set a high expectation for any other Pacheco girl who ventured through Queen’s Grant. Teachers adored you, boys feared you on the playground. Anyone in any office took notice that any day with you would be sweet and friendly with an 87% chance of goofiness.


Whether it’s the awkward kid in third grade who wants to give you the chips out of his lunch every day or the steady boyfriend you met on a camping trip, you’ve given your sisters a primer on boys.

Boy craziness afflicts neither of your sisters. Neither compelled to compete for a boy’s attention. There’s kindness – or at least empathy – in how you’ve dealt with those with whom the interest isn’t mutual.

They’ve not put it into practice yet, but there’s also a model for how to love freely for your sisters to see. To love.


We started a bit too late, didn’t we? We still found a match, though. Amid the chaos and deluge of junk mail, you narrowed your search, hit reset. Find me a school in the mountains, you asked, where I can play soccer.

Madison, welcome to Warren Wilson College. Warren Wilson College, meet your new, kickass goalkeeper.

Hayden might balk at the idea of MORE school, but she knows the time is now to look. Camdyn has already picked out Wake Forest.

You hear me, Deacs?

sisters 2

Loyalty and protection

Years ago, you and Hayden jumped bad on a boy for roughing up your little sis in a bounce house at a friend’s birthday party.

I didn’t stop you. From the day you helped give Hayden a bath in the kitchen sink (tease her on this at your own risk!), you’ve modeled a protective arm and loving service.

It shows when Hayden strokes Camdyn’s hair as they watch TV together. Watch how little kids flock to Camdyn, because of her innate big-sister skills that live and thrive – even without a younger sibling to practice on.

Madison, your little sisters might tease you for singing the instrument part of songs on the radio, or for epic-length stories, or appreciation of Dr. Who.

But just watch them.

In their own ways, they’re strong and loyal, skilled and confident, full of love and wonder and even a good dose of spit and vinegar when they need it. As parents, we can take only partial credit, love.

Sisters like these are made by sisters like you.

sister quote


  1. Lyn says:

    It’s no wonder you’re so proud of your girls. They are everything sisters should be (I hated being an “only”.) Looking at that last photo of the girls together, you’re going to have your hands full keeping the boys in line 😀

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I am in awe of them, Lyn. I know there are advantages to being an only, but I can’t help but feel these three have two built-in friends for life – or at least I hope so.

      I nearly used the outtake photo instead of that one – that would give you a good sense of them too!

      I don’t even have to worry about keeping the boys in line. These girls know how to take care of themselves.

      1. Lyn says:

        LOL I bet they do 😉

  2. Aaaaw, I’ve never had an older sister, (or younger, for that matter), but I sure would have loved to grow up with somebody like Elise!

    How does she feel about being the first-born? I sometimes begrudged my younger brother for getting privileges easily that I had to fight for so hard.

    Of the areas you list here I like “loyalty and protection” best.

    Big hugs from Switzerland to all of your girl, especially poor “sick” Marie 😉 Oh, and to you, too of course!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      She’s been a gem, especially considering how inexperienced her parents were during her formative years, Tamara.

      I’ll ask how she feels about being the first born. I know times change and Grace has attained some privileges the other two had to wait for.

      Loyalty and protection came last for a reason. Thanks for the hugs and for stopping by.

  3. Rea says:

    You have beautiful children. Inside and out! And yes, sisters are the best. Sisters are forever. I only have one, we treasure each other so much and keep in touch as much as possible.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Rea. I like how they’re turning out. I hope they’ll always be friends. No one else in the world is more like you than your sisters.

      Love that you and your sister remain close as adults.

  4. Yvonne says:

    Awww, what a lovely tribute to a sterling big sister.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      She’s something else, Yvonne.

  5. stomperdad says:

    This makes want to have that daughter I used to wish to have. She’s be the baby sister, not the big sis though. Perhaps she’d bring some balance to the force around here. But with my luck I’d end with a third boy. Great post, Eli! You’re girls have it good. Perhaps not as good as you do 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I figure it works the same way with boys, Eric. Right? My girls have a force that seems to transcend gender.

      I do have it good. Glad you liked this.

  6. A.PROMPTreply says:

    Now that’s an awesome perspective, Eli. I think your girls can’t possibly know how good they have it with a father like you….so appreciative of just every little thing about them. Of course, this sisterly path forging done by Elise isn’t a little thing…it’s huge because it’s helped to lay out the future of how your family rolls, hasn’t it? Well done, Elise!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Torrie. I just hope they have a good life. If Elise hadn’t chosen soccer, who knows where we’d be.

  7. Being a the older sister growing up (and still) and having two girls, who are sisters, I couldn’t have loved this more if I tried. Seriously your girls are so lucky to have each other, Eli! 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You know all about it then, don’t you Janine? Glad you liked it. To see them together is something else. For a few minutes, we had them all on the same soccer pitch for an indoor game. That was pretty cool.

  8. Awwww….what a wonderful girl, er, young woman! I’m a first-born sister, I’ve given birth to a first-born sister–it’s an honorable position and Elise wears it well.
    I know this stage you are in (the few months before college starts) – it’s bittersweet and emotional and amazing all at once. Thank you for sharing your Elise with us. xo

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      She’s a girl who can vote in the next election, that’s what she is, Michelle. It’s a sterling sisterhood, this first-born sister thing.

      I’m mostly just excited for Elise and what life will hold for her. I felt this way even as she considered far-off schools in Florida.

      thanks for coming over to read about her!

  9. kismaslife says:

    What I wouldn’t have given to have a sister growing up! This is beautiful and your girls are a blessing not just you, but your readers. Thank you ladies for letting your dad brag!


    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s worked out well for these three. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed getting to know them, too.

  10. Kim says:

    Having sisters rocks. Me and my sisters fought and played together like crazy. But having them is the best thing ever – and I love it that your girls have each other. Now I’m gonna go call my girls!

  11. So beautiful!! I am completely envious of you for having your beautiful girls, and envious of them for having each other. Well done Eli!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Susan. It’s the best thing in life!

  12. Holly says:

    I love this post and the timing as I watch M jump right into using big-brothering skills that have been dormant all these years. Even from afar, I can see some of what you point out in the interactions between Elise and the other two between him and Little G.

    1. Holly says:

      Oh,and I felt for the teachers at the schools I went to as a kid. My brother was three years behind me and everyone knew us because it was a very small school system and for years we were the only redheads in our grades.

      I am sure those teachers thought “Holly was such a quiet, studious girl; surely Jeremy will be just as easy to teach.”


      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        It can definitely work both ways, Holly. You guys were tough to miss, weren’t you? We forget how different siblings can be, though … I know these three bring their own gifts and challenges to any room.

  13. ksbeth says:

    what a beautiful girl and great pic of the two of you together. congrats on her new school adventure, they are lucky to have her both in goal and in the classroom.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      thanks beth – that was the night she won homecoming queen and i got to escort her onto the court.

      she can’t wait to get started … it’s definitely a perfect match.

  14. tamaralikecamera says:

    I think Elise is my spirit animal!
    Scarlet doesn’t get “pee pee prizes” anymore but she STILL tells me that she has to go to the bathroom. I could be outside, or upstairs, or in the shower, and she won’t go to the bathroom. Not until she tells me first.
    Ah, daughters.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      She’d make a great spirit animal, Tamara. I wonder if Scarlet will continue this urination notification when she gets to college, too.

      Don’t you need to know when? It seems like you would. Daughters rock. Sons probably do, too.

  15. What beautiful girls you have, Eli! If you’re like me, it seems like just yesterday that you were giving gold stars and pee-pee prizes. 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Deb. Elise’s pee-pee prizes were these building blocks with faces on them that I’d get at Arby’s, in kids meals, when I visited my dad at Duke hospital. She still has them.

  16. I wish you could see me now, Eli. Crying like a baby. This post was so incredibly beautiful. A testament to sibling bonds & a proud father who along with mama have been mountains of strength & oceans of love. Truly touching post which we will be sharing now!! 😉 xo

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Sorry Inion! I didn’t mean to make you cry. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, though. As parents, we just try to give them every shot at learning through life and living with love.

      Thank you so much for sharing this post, too.

  17. Indira says:

    You have lovely daughters. I love the twinkle in the eyes of the proud father. Seems there is a great bonding between you all.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thank you Indira. It’s hard to mask the joy they bring to me every day. My relationships with my daughters isn’t perfect, but I’m proud of the connection we have and I hope always will have.

      1. Indira says:

        No one can claim to be perfect in any relationship, it will be artificial as there are many ups and downs in life. Love affection and care as much as possible is sufficient i think. It’s a blessing to be proud of your children. Have a nice time.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Truer words, Indira. Just this morning one of my girls griped at me because I edited an error into her paper when I looked it over. I calmly pointed out that I fixed several others, and that it was a good piece that I learned a lot from. No more ire.

        Love to the limit.

  18. Charlotte says:

    This is such an incredibly sweet and thoughtful post, Eli. It’s no surprise that your girls are as well-rounded as they are since they have such a caring and doting father in their life who is proud of their accomplishments… and I love that you recognize when to step back to let your girls be girls and figure things out on their own (and for knocking sense into the boy who rough-housed the little sis). ❤ this, so much. Your girls are beautiful.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thank you, Charlotte. This fatherhood thing is tougher than passing a fullback through the head of a needle, but … the reward! Holy hell.

  19. Lisa @ The Golden Spoons says:

    Well, since I have 3 girls as well, you know I love this. My oldest & my middle are like oil & water – sometimes, I wonder if they will ever find a way to actually be friends. (However, my middle & my youngest are best buds.) I forget – and they definitely don’t realize – how much they have learned from their biggest sister.

    PS – If Grace does end up at Wake, you better stop in Greensboro on your way there. I’ll buy you a cup of coffee – or tea, or whatever – in a totally platonic, non-weird sort of way. Crazy that we live so close and communicate via our blogs!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I knew you’d relate, Lisa. I think that oil-and-water treatment kind of strengthens the kids when they have to move through it. Who better to clash with than someone you love?

      That wouldn’t be weird at all, Lisa. You’re just up the road, in my old town. We’ll be up that way for soccer this spring, in fact.

  20. Dana says:

    Our oldests seem similar, Eli, although my girl has no sisters. I’m sure Elise loved this post, and your love for her and her sisters is so evident. There’s just something about the oldest child, isn’t there? Especially when she is a kickass girl. And I’m not saying that because that was me. Well, maybe a little.

    Congrats on the college decision being made – what a relief, right? Still deciding over here.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      They’re the same age too, aren’t they Dana? Elise didn’t say much about the post, but I hope she loved it.

      She was the daughter I’ve loved the longest, and learned the longest from, so there is something there.

      She kicked much ass last night in her indoor soccer game, but I’m proud also that her kick-assness transfers to other parts of life, too.

      It’s a relief, the decision, but we’re still awaiting official word. Breath held. Good luck to you and yours.

  21. rachel says:

    i don’t even know her and i’m proud of her. 💗

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You’d love her, Rachel.

      1. rachel says:

        i think you’re right.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        She’d probably dig your blog, too.

      3. rachel says:


      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        I know. Well, maybe we’ll keep your blog for me for now.

  22. tania2atee says:

    She sounds amazing! I never had a sister, but I hope my two girls can be as amazing to each other too!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Tania. I hope these girls are close friends forever.

      1. tania2atee says:

        I hope they are too, Eli!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        so far, so good.

  23. TammieB says:

    Beautifully written, Eli. Your daughters are absolutely beautiful! (Inside and out) Being the eldest myself, you don’t really realize how much your younger siblings actually pay attention to you and even if they don’t show it 99.9% of the time, they are looking up to you. Learning from you. Admiring you. It’s a pretty big responsibility. Sounds like your girl serves as a pretty amazing role model.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Tammie, they’re kinda kick-ass, these three. The oldest kid is kind of in the spotlight at all times.

      I love how she leads.

  24. Rorybore says:

    Well done Coach. A great gift you’ve given your firstborn in this Ode. It’s so important to see our impact on those around us. To know that we leave a ripple of where we’ve been that stretches and stretches forth.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Les. I hope she liked it. I hope she knows the influence she’s had on her sisters.A big one.

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