Which Child Would You Rather Be?
On National Siblings Day the conversation in the Downtown Studios quickly became a question of which child had it the easiest growing up, and which one would you have rather been? As some random 85% of Americans have at least one sibling, it's a fun topic to debate.
I grew up the youngest in my family during the 80s & 90s with two older sisters. One six years my elder, the other only two years apart. Though the years don't seem like much in our collective adulthood, it is a huge difference in those early years.
When polled, most people agreed it was always best to be the oldest sibling... I disagree. My oldest sister received the most strict of rules from our biological first-time parents. Grade and educational expectations, social expectations, sports, act-right, public opinion, etc... plus all of the additional pressure of responsibility.
Example: As the youngest, I never had to babysit... but I can remember my oldest sister being in charge every time our parents played host to a party or dinner. If three-year-old me wandered out of mom and dad's bedroom into the middle of a company Halloween party, do you think I was the one getting fussed at for it?
As an adult, when it comes up she likes to remind our other sister and me how easy we had it coming up after her. How mom and dad never showed up to the party to literally drag her out to the car. The early curfews the parents would stay up for. The pressure our parents put on her. She definitely had it the hardest, and as such, she grew into the uber-successful and driven one of our clan... but we'll never give her the satisfaction of agreeing with her over it.
They say that middle children usually develop a weird middle-child mentality. That sense of being not special since they're not the first or last, not the oldest or youngest, but somewhere in the moderate middle. It's fair to say that happened in our family, not that our middle sister isn't special, but that she felt that way growing up. It wasn't revealed to us either until she was in her mid-30s either. We had no idea.
From the outside, she was the popular one of us three and the first to have a job. Since our oldest sister was the designated family babysitter, my middle sis was free to take on paid babysitting gigs. She also packed a paper route into her after-school schedule when she was about twelve.
What does a twelve-year-old spend all of her money on? Of course, the latest fashions, a closet full of Dr. Marten's back when they made good shoes. She was friends with everyone at school, always with the "cute" boyfriends, slumber parties, event bday parties, and she was the first to discover Chick Fil A way back when there was only one in the whole state, etc... Add in that when our oldest sister went to college, she inherited all of those responsibilities and pressures, she practically became the second first-born for at least four years.
And then there's me. The youngest and only boy. I'm a big enough person to admit, I got away with the most growing up... at least that's how my big sisters saw it. I was the wild one that jumped first and looked second even I knew it would get me in trouble.
I honestly just didn't care. My parents always gave us the choice between being grounded or getting licks with the belt. While my sisters would elect to be locked down in our electronics-less bedrooms for days on end to avoid a whooping, I'd line up, take my painful swats and hop back outside to continue having fun.
I'm sure we all wonder what life would be like if we had come along in a different order, how different our lives would actually look, but all in all, I wouldn't change anything. Whether they agree or not, as far as I'm concerned our childhoods were awesome. Growing up poor, moving around constantly, it was always the five of us versus the world. As we've moved into adulthood and have our own families, that closeness isn't there quite like it used to be, we're far closer than most families.