Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Birth Order Disorders! :)

By Belinda

The estimated time of sunset in Toronto tonight,  according to The Weather Network, was 19.46 hours, so at 19.30 or (or 7.30,) Molson and I left the house in a hurry, as soon as the dinner dishes were in the dishwasher, like teenagers up against a curfew.

The evening sky was a mottled gray, and the pavement wet; suitably sober for the last walk of summer before Back to School.

We retraced our steps of yesterday afternoon, when we had passed that way, bound for the park, with ten more little feet running beside and ahead of us.

As we got within sight of the main highway, 6 year old *William had called out, "Can I push the button?" (for the walking signal to cross the road.)

"Of course," I said.

"I get to push it on the way back," said 9 year old Andrew, staking his claim.
What is it about pushing a button that is so exciting for a kid? I don't know, but I know that it is. It can be an elevator button--any button--a kid will love to push it. They love to push each other's buttons too, but that's another story entirely.

And on the way back, sure enough, an hour had gone by, but he remembered. "I'm pushing the button," he called out as we got close to the lights.

"I want to push the button," cried 4 year old Claire, from where she rode on her sister Elizabeth's back.

"I'm pushing it; it's my turn," said Andrew.

"Andrew," said older sister Elizabeth, 12, "You're older, be mature."

I intervened; a deal's a deal, after all. "It's Andrew's turn, and if he wants to give it to Claire, he can, but it's his turn."

Elizabeth made an, "I give up," snorting sound.

Claire was happy to press the button after her brother pressed it. Everybody was happy, which is as I like it!

But tonight as I walked, and night falling fast around me, I thought about being an "older child" myself. I remember how unfair it felt: "You should know better, you are older." Maybe that's why I intervened when I could have just let the familiar age old pattern play out.

An older child is always pressed to give way to the younger more irrational sibling when they are longing themselves...to push that button; sit by the window; eat that piece of pie; have the next turn at whatever it is.

These dynamics, they shape us. Life isn't fair, and we learn that soon enough. We older kids just get a head start!

I married a second child and I think that most of my friends are second born. They are so much fun, these attention seeking, competetive, funny younger siblings. We older brothers and sisters are much more serious and trained to responsibility. Most of my fun is inside my head, however I make up amply there, for my outward conformity. :)

Susan's older sister Brenda, called me her "twin," in her guest blog post on Friday. And we are so much alike, on many levels. It was funny, the three of us being together on Thursday night at cell group, Susan so full of mischief and fun, and her older "twin sisters."

What about you, dear readers? What is your birth order and how did it affect you, if at all? I would love to hear your thoughts.

(*Middle names used for this set of grandchildren, to honour the wishes of their parents for internet safety.)


Dave Hingsburger said...

I was the second child. But I was the one who carried the responsibility of 'peace maker' trying to keep everything stable. It was exhausting work for a child, I don't recommend it.

Susan said...

I was the youngest of three. I'm still the youngest, for that matter. I was also the youngest grandchild for ten wonderful years until my next oldest cousin was born. Several more cousins followed in quick succession and my special place in the extended family was lost forever. I never stopped trying to have it restored somehow, though. Until then it had been my main responsibility in life to be "cute" and to make everyone laugh. I still think it the most satisfying of endeavours when I succeed at getting a roomful of people to crack up at something I've said. There were a number of serious issues going on in our home during our growing up years and I considered it my solemn duty to diffuse the intensity building in the air with humour. I've always been grateful for being the youngest and rarely, if ever, being relied upon to be sober and responsible. That was the job my older sister was cut out for. Funny how things can change, though.... :) but that's another comment for another post.

Belinda said...

Dave, how interesting that when I first met you, you were in "Behaviour Management." It sounds as though you had lots of early practice, and yes, that is too great a burden for a child.

Belinda said...

Susan, How we are shaped by our place in the family hey?

Well, you, Dave, Irene and Frances, my extrovert friends, all have an appreciative audience in me. I love to listen and laugh at jokes and I cannot tell one well to save my life.

Karebear said...

I am the oldest in the birth order. Not only the oldest child, and only girl with three younger brothers, but also the oldest grandchild in a clan with 34 grandkids. I love it!! Spoiled... and somehow I had my brothers wrapped around my fingers.
But I also saw the unfair side... how my brothers had later curfews, or none at all. They did less around the house....but I love them!

Belinda said...

Hi Karebear!
Cool to know that about you. 33 cousins--wow!

And your spirit of adventure is an eldest child thing, I think. That confidence to pioneer.

Anonymous said...

I am the responsible for everything oldest and I married a fun-loving definitely youngest.
All the birth order books say that is the best combination. It has worked wonderfully for us and we are entering our 48th year of marriage.
If you married the 'wrong' birth order kid? Get over it and move on. You can adapt! Brenda Wood
www.inscribe.org/brenda wood

Belinda said...

Oh, Brenda! "MY Brenda," a second born, youngest, just said of your comment, "Spoken like a true oldest child!" Ha ha!