Apr 14, 2009

Playing Favorites

Because we got an awesome deal on a used test car from my work, we decided to replace the truck my son has been driving. The truck was a hand me down from his sister. Like all siblings they watch closely to see what the other one gets and then measure it against some sort of “fairness” scale. I mentioned to my sister that I was worried my daughter was upset about us getting him the car. She said “Who cares? He needs it to be about him once in awhile.” I realized she gave this advice as a second born child, just like my son. I decided to take her advice and get over it. (I can just imagine the face my daughter is making as she reads this. I bet she read the above and thought “It’s always about him.”)

Birth order plays a big role in how you see the world. I read “The Birth Order Book” years ago and was fascinated by how big an influence it has. My poor son is a second born in a house full of firstborns. It’s like somebody sticking a baby chick in a hawk’s nest. The hawks see some sort of resemblance, feathers, beaks, wings but there is something very different about this creature. He doesn’t seem to care about things quite as much as we do.

The firstborns in the house (husband, daughter and me) spend all our time trying to be on top. Who is the funniest? Who is smarter? Who cleaned more rooms in the house on “house cleaning weekend”? Who cooks better? Who is spanking @ss at Trivial Pursuit (me of course)? Who drives better? The list of things we compete over is endless. All the time my son just sits back, not only not participating but mysteriously not caring at all. He is content to go about his own business, just doing what makes him happy.

Our birth order affects how we parent as well. While we were out and about one day my sister got a phone call from her first born. My niece was complaining that her younger sister was not listening to her. I fully expected my sister to get her younger daughter on the phone and tell her to straighten up and do what her sister told her to do. Instead she told the oldest to quit bossing her younger sister around. What? You left her in charge, didn’t you? She’s supposed to boss her around.

Then it dawned on me that of course my “younger” sister would empathize with the younger daughter. In the same fashion, I totally understood where the oldest was coming from. I remember as a teenager being given marching orders about cleaning the house or cooking dinner and instead of my sister cooperating by doing what she was told to do, she plopped her butt down on bottom stair and told me she wouldn’t do ANYTHING I told her to do.

So I will accept that my daughter will always think my son has it too easy and my son will always think we pay way too much attention to our over-achieving daughter. It's unavoidable. I'll just shake my head, knowing that they are both special in their own way and appreciated for who they are, even though they are very different people.


  1. I'm precisely in the middle of an older brother and sister,..and a younger brother and sister.
    I insist on having my eggs over easy!
    Otherwise,I'll take what I can get.

  2. Ok, I just have to comment on this one. you remember me sitting on the bottom step because Mom wouldn't even be out of the driveway and the commands started pouring from your mouth. I knew I had a few hours to get the job done and was going to wait until I was ready.
    Just remember, I love you in spite of it all! ;-)

  3. What a great insight! My husband and I are both "babies" of our families--sometimes it can be a challenge. *smiles*

    But I never thought about parenting--man, when my hubby and I have kids, it will be interesting to see how our birth order affects our parenting. :)

  4. Sling - middle kids are easy to please. They are just happy to get some attention once in awhile. But they are also very good at making their own way and building strong social circles outside the family.

    Sis - see how stubborn you are.

    Mis HP - Two "babies". It must be round the clock fun at your house. Babies are fun loving and spontaneous.