|Zac and the 8-year old at Halloween|
I feel sorry for the youngest child in any family. Oh, don’t get me wrong. There are perks to being the baby in the family, especially if it’s a large family. I mean, the youngest is quite often spoiled. The parents have gone through - I mean, raised - several kids already and are tired. The fight sometimes gets beaten out of them as well as some of the excitement. When that first child shows on the scene, Mom and Dad are pumped. They’re reading all the books, listening to the advice of grandparents and child proofing the house. Electric sockets are covered and corners cushioned. When that first child scrapes a knee, they’re rushed to the hospital. The baby of the family, however, is told to “stop the damn crying. You’re not bleeding to death.”
The first child has their picture taken every three seconds. They can’t move without someone clicking a snapshot to later be shoved into every poor soul’s face that comes along.
“What is that a picture of? He looks like he’s in pain.”
“It’s the first time he passed gas. Isn’t he so cute?”
There were only two kids in my family and luckily, I was born first. There were hundreds of pictures of me. Laurie, who came second, seemed to have been absent until the age of two. Of course, being the supportive older brother I told her that was when she had been adopted.
It’s not fair, but it does happen. Parents tend to loosen the reins on the younger kids as they look forward to the quietness of an empty nest.
This does have a flipside to it, however. So many siblings have gone before them that all the tricks have been tried. In the words of Solomon, “There is nothing new under the sun.” The 8-year old discovered this the other day and I think she wanted to kick the older kids for cheating her out of being able to get away with anything or at least, something.
Twelve years difference resides between her and Zac and I think she was hoping my memory was shot. She found out the other day that my memory only sucks when it comes to where I put my coffee mug or people’s names. For instance, one of her jobs is to clear the table after dinner. Of course, as soon as she hears, “Dyl, clear the table,” she develops a sudden need to visit the bathroom. For thirty minutes.
When she finally does emerge, she’s bouncing down the hall. That is, she is until she sees the table still covered with dishes. “Nice try,” I say. “Heather used to try that. You’re going to have to be a lot more creative.”
It’s the same with visits to the school clinic. “Not feeling well?”
“No, sir. My tummy hurts really bad. And my head. My head hurts. I think I have a fever, too.”
“I see. Math test today?”
“I’ll see you at 2:30. Go back to class.”
It’s not fair, I know. The older kids think it's justice for her being given things they didn’t receive growing up. I think it just proves that I was paying attention when the kids grew up. It may not be fair, but it is good parenting.
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