Monday, August 5, 2013

Youngest Child Syndrome


I am the youngest of six kids.  I used to think all that birth order stuff was crap.  Because most of it didn't seem to apply to me. Even though I am the "baby" of the family, I'm neither out-going, nor dependent on everyone around me emotionally because I wasn't coddled as a child.  Sure there may have been some perks in being the youngest.  Mostly, my parents were broken-in already.

So they were a bit more relaxed with me.  So relaxed in fact I think they sometimes forgot that they had a 6th kid.  After all, there's only like 3 photos of my entire childhood.   Why did they need photos of me?  They had 5 other kids who looked exactly like me.  And black and white film was expensive in those days and then you had to get it developed.  They could just take a picture of my brother Tom and say it was me.  Who'd be the wiser?

But then there were the more important things they forgot,  like ever having the birds and bees conversation with me.  I mean I already knew about sex when I heard from my friends at school.  And since I was from a big Catholic family, even though it was all non-verbal, I knew for sure I wasn't supposed to have sex.  Until I was married and my husband and I wanted a baby.  But then I could only do it four times if I only wanted four kids.  And I knew damn well I wasn't supposed to enjoy it.  That'd be a sin and I'd go directly to hell.

But as the youngest child, I do have the rebelliousness, risk-taking and lack of self esteem also associated with last borns.  And now that I'm a mom of 4, I see the exact same thing with my youngest daughter Ember who's 8.

She tries so hard to keep up with her siblings and for the most part she can.  Which only kicks her already competitive nature into high gear.  Because of this she is extremely hard on herself especially when she doesn't know something.  Which she'll try to cover up with an untrue and curt "I know".   When she doesn't.  Which is exactly what I used to do when I was her age.

The other day, as I dived up the chores, she drew cleaning the tub in the bathroom from the hat.  So I sent her off with the scrub brush, cleaner and a rag.  The kids scattered, started their chores while I got distracted by something else.  Ten minutes later, I went up to the bathroom to check on her progress.  That's when I found Ember in the bathtub filled with water, cleaner and the rag, in her bathing suit.

"Whhhhaaaat are you doing?"  I said too harshly and too impulsively.  Then she started to sob.  And I felt like crap.  Because that's when she told me she didn't know how to clean the tub.  And I realized I  never showed her how to do it like I had when the other 3 kids were her age.  And I felt like the worst mother ever.  A feeling unfortunately I've had a million times over in my kids childhood when I know I've screwed up.

So, I vow right now to not forget to tell her about sex so her friends tell her first.  Unless she finds out much too early from her brothers, who heard it from friends at school and had to share the way her  older sister, the middle child, did...

Post Script:  Before you call CPS,  I only use natural non-bleach cleaner in my bathroom.  So no child was physically harmed.  All the scars are purely emotional.  And we have started a therapy fund.


5 comments:

Cerebrations.biz said...

Ah, yes, memories.
We had five. Where the fifth is almost a decade younger than the rest. And, we assigned chores, too. Which the 8 year old (the youngest at the time) was thrilled to effect. Of course, asking her to wash the lettuce for dinner was something she had never done. So, she did what any child would probably do- she use soap and water and washed the lettuce...
Don't feel like you are the only one!

Sandra said...

See I was going to say that cleaning the tub while in it is brilliant...but now you know the state of my house and its cleanliness level...And just for the record, it's not having sex that's a bad thing, it's having it with people you aren't married too. I think the church encourages lots of sex in order for overpopulation to continue occurring, you know, since the church takes such good care of all those starving children all over the world...Ok, slightly off topic...

Sine said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. I already feel guilty by association, having four kids as well, so I am determined to have a conversation about something with my youngest first thing tomorrow morning. If anything, it'll be a great way to get the tub cleaned!

MuMuGB said...

Well, I was the oldest, so things were pretty different for me. I was constantly cleaning the mess. Happy times!

Anonymous said...

I am the yougest of six and know this feeling very well, I think if I ever have children I will only have 1.

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