The natural order of things

My dad tells me I am the youngest child of the youngest child of the youngest child of the youngest child. So that makes my little boy the fifth youngest child of the youngest child (I’m sure there’s a more proper way to say that). Being the baby of four kids, I definitely took my fair share of being picked on. So I guess I resonate with my youngest when I see him snubbed by his sister or bossed around.

And of course there are those fun picture opps that she can’t resist the urge to ruin while he flashes a cute, unknowing smile.

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Last week my daughter took a party favor out of her backpack when she got home from school. It was a little boy’s birthday that day and he brought bubbles and little wands to share with his classmates. Her brother, of course, hung out next to her, eager to see if there was a prize in there for him. She started unwrapping the package excitedly to get to the bubbles, and in the process, she ripped the paper tag off and handed it to her brother. “Here you go, you can have this part.” He accepted the gift gladly and watched while she opened the “real” present. He was just happy to be acknowledged by her and grateful to have some part in it.

Meanwhile, I found myself feeling sad for him. That torn-up piece of paper is not a gift in any way, shape or form! But then on the flip side of it, she could have not included him in the experience at all.

She is known to say things like, “You have two choices.”  And she then gives him the rundown of what she’s offering, along with each possible outcome. And what’s crazy is he actually listens carefully and then chooses, as if he’s under her dictatorship. She has actually tried telling me that since he’s the youngest, she should be her brother’s boss – because it’s the natural order of things since I’m her boss.

I watch them scuffle over toys and her strength always wins. We tell her that he will be bigger than her someday, but she doesn’t believe us. And for now, it doesn’t matter. She asks him to race her to people or things, knowing full well that he doesn’t have a chance of beating her. Sometimes I want to intervene, but for the most part, I don’t. I know from experience that where one falls in the birth order will no doubt shape his/her personality. Being the underdog, he will probably develop a sense of perseverance and determination that would not otherwise be there. His victories over the years will be that much sweeter, knowing he worked his tail off time and time again.

He looks up to her so much, he will do anything she asks. He wants to be doing whatever it is she’s doing. He knows she has a bit more knowledge and experience than him, so he counts on her to show him the ropes.

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He follows her around and I know at times, she finds it annoying.

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But she also helps him when he is struggling. She grabs his water or a toy he wants if he’s far from it. And the best part is the way she looks at him and cares for him when he isn’t looking. I know how much she adores him deep down and loves to dote on him. She is known to baby him just a little bit and I can’t say that it bothers me. Who am I to mess with the natural order of things?

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