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February 16, 2009

Birth Order

Birth Order

By Harley

 Something I used to hear a lot was, “Gee, you’re so  . . . down-to-earth. Unassuming.” For a Hollywood actress, they meant.

 I rarely hear this anymore, because I’m a mom now and moms are by definition down-to-earth. Writers, too, are presumed to wear old sweaters with elbow patches, sit in garrets, stare at typewriters/computers/yellow legal pads and munch on apples/chocolate/martini olives.

 Whereas Hollywood actresses are flighty, wear sunglasses indoors, sport toy poodles and feather boas and spend their days plotting a spot on Dancing With The Stars.

 So back in the day, when civilians expecting Anna Nicole Smith would get me, and start in with the “you’re so down-to-earth and unassuming” I’d explain that most actors/actresses are pretty normal. But people who read PEOPLE don’t want to hear that, so then I learned to say, “I’m from Nebraska.” Because everyone believes that Nebraska = 4H, chewing tobacco, and apple brown betty. (Everyone except Nebraskans, who actually do have culture, sophistication, bikini waxes, and plastic surgery.)

 But recently I figured out what’s behind my unassuming down-to-earthiness: Birth order.

 I’m the baby of my family. My closest sibling, Pete, is 3 years older. The oldest, Andrew, is 14 years older, and there are 5 more in between. What does this mean? Aside from the fact that there were 4 baby pictures of me and 9,748 of Andrew, it means I was the last to hear family news (e.g., “we’re moving to Nebraska tomorrow”), rarely understood the jokes, and never got to finish my sentences, let alone my stories, because it was considered unlikely that I had anything worthwhile to say. I don’t mean to suggest that these were bad people. They’re lovely people. But they were siblings; it was their job to destroy any feelings of self-importance I may have accidentally developed.

 In compensation, I got more presents at Christmas, fewer chores, and avoided being supplanted by someone smaller and cuter (until I reached my full height, making my sister Dory smaller and cuter.)

 Nevertheless, I’ve stumbled through life with an inner Village Idiot. Part of me is pretty sure I don’t know what I’m talking about. Even with my children. There’s often a moment of looking around, wondering, “who’s in charge here?” and then realizing, “Oh, yeah. I am.”

 You think I’m overstating it?

 Research shows that 43% of all CEOs are firstborns, 33% are middle-borns and only 23% are last-borns. Eldest siblings are disproportionately represented among surgeons and M.B.A.s and the U.S. Congress.

 What are the babies doing? Getting arrested. According to a study of picketers at labor demonstrations, when events lead to arrests, the arrestees are overwhelmingly later- or last-borns. (Which begs the question, who thinks up these studies?)

 I can’t speak for middle children because in our family there were too many to keep track of, let alone find common characteristics. And among my own children, it’s all skewed because the little ones are twins.

 I’m currently devising a Youngest Child self-help program. At parties, I mumble to myself, “Some of these people are not very smart. I can probably hold my own here.” Assuming I can override my Youngest Child tendency to find a quiet corner and nap.

 BTW, I was hoping to give you a link to a fun Birth Order Quiz, but they’re mostly stupid. Except for one that required Excel, which I couldn’t open. And anyhow, rather than guess the birth order of Britney Spears or Chairman Mao, I’d rather guess us at TLC. My first guess is that Me, Margie is an only child.

Care to share? Come on, we're family.

Happy Monday.

Harley

p.s. Happy President's Day, Mr. President! I hope everyone treats you nicely today.

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Comments

I'm an eldest child, 22 months older than my sister and 7 years older than my brother.

Being the oldest had many perks, but I also got in more trouble and had to "set an example" for my younger sibs, which I did. Sorry it was the wrong example, Mom:)

I can't really imagine being the youngest child, altho it might be cool. My brother got away with stuff at 13 that I would have got my butt kicked for at 21.

I think there's a lot to the birth order stuff. I am the eldest of 5. Sometimes I think my siblings and I were reared in different families because we have nothing in common. What's more, we don't remember shared experiences in the same way.

I would guess that Nancy is a middle child, Elaine is a middle child, Sarah is a youngest child, and Kathy is an oldest child. Are you going to post a list letting us know?

Also, I think the amount of education the children in a family choose to get has a strong impact on their relationships in the family, both positively and negatively. If you're the educated one, you've gotten too big for your britches. If you've ended your education at the high school level, you've never lived up to your potential.

Holy Cow, Harley - your blog describes me to a T. I'm the youngest of 9; my siblings range from 6 to 16 years older. I still haven't learned to feel like I might know what I'm talking about. And I have no desire to be a CEO.

And Doc in CA, I heard the last sentence in your post my whole life. ;)

I'm not Her, Margie, but I'm an only until I got stepbrothers. That wasn't until I was 16, though.

Janis, I would tell on my blog sisters in a hearbeat, but nobody tells me anything, so I don't actually KNOW. We have to wait for them to wake up and let us know.

I think it's too early to reveal, so I won't, but this is great stuff, Harley. I've never considered how the youngest might feel---so that should tell you where I fall in my family's birth order!

Oh, Harley, I feel your pain! Finish a sentence? Have anything of interest to add? Try anything first? Not when you're the little sister. My brother is 4 1/2 years older and my sister is 6 1/2 years older. I recall that my first few years of teaching I was absolutely amazed that a class full of teenagers would do what I asked let alone write down something I said.

Even now, when we get together, we fall into the old patterns. It's funny when it's not scary.

I am the youngest of four and was born almost 11 years after my brother, so while I am the baby I was pretty much an only child growing up. This just means I’m completely confused on what my role is within the birth order chart. No wonder I can’t figure out what I’m going to be when I grow up, criminal or CEO. A tough choice but they’re almost the same career these days, aren’t they?

My guess on the Tart birth order:

Nancy is the oldest
Sarah is the youngest
Elaine is in the middle
Kathy is the oldest
Michele is the oldest
Lisa is in the middle
Me, Margie is the oldest if she has siblings

For backbloggers, I am the last born. I am still that 3- or 4-year-old, sitting in the middle of the living room floor, screaming because no one would pay attention to me. (I do not remember this; I have been told that it happened.)

Over 40 years later, things have changed so much, yes?

I'm the oldest of three siblings. I have two younger brothers. Our family dynamics were strange in that I never felt like the oldest child. It was my middle born brother, whose personality was so strong and at times overbearing, who seemed to lead a lot of the time. Eventually my youngest youngest brother and myself formed an alliance against our middle brother. To this day my two brothers can't be together for long periods of time before they start rubbing each other the wrong way. It's a good thing we're "all grown up" and don't have to live in the same household anymore.

But getting back to birth order, my youngest brother was very indulged by my parents. He was allowed to sneak out of bed to watch TV with my Dad. He never was reprimanded like my middle brother and me.


Oh, why did you have to dredge up this subject? My older sister and brother are still bitching because they had to go to bed at 9 o'clock, but my younger brother and I got away with watching Johnny Carson.

I am the oldest of four and the only girl, a baby sitter provided by nature. But, Harley, I do understand. When we went through baby pictures and books, Mom had documented my every burp. There's an infamous picture of me with strained prunes smeared on my face. By the time that exhausted woman got to baby brother no. 4, the kid had three pictures -- the hospital photo, his first Christmas and his first day at kindergarten.
His reaction was classic, "Where's mine?" That is the cry of the youngest.

I'm the middle daughter wedged between brothers. I was the quiet one. By the time we were teenagers (we're all two years apart), my parents spoiled me ROTTEN because I never caused any trouble.

It was great!

I'm the youngest. But there are only two of us. My sister is older by 17 months. No, we weren't close. Sometimes I think we had a lot of sibling rivalry because we were too close in age. And Harley, I agree that older siblings definitely believe it's their job to destroy any feelings of self-importance a younger sibling may have accidentally developed

I'm the oldest of two, and it does make a difference. As Doc mentioned, my brother got away with stuff that would have sentenced me up under the Mom Prison with no chance of parole. But to give credit, he does have his fair share of baby photos, etc....


Apparently, the fact that I am the oldest is obvious. Hmmmm.

I am the oldest of five - I am also the shortest, fattest and smartest. Hmmmm. It appears that 'Most Moderate' must fall somewhere else in the birth order.

Oops - almost forgot that I have two more little brothers. They are shorter, for now.

Doc - amen and sorry to the youngests among us, but it is so true. Didn't stop me from raising hell, just made me very good at not getting caught. My brother (the first one) is 12 years younger than me, the only boy, first GrandSON - the kid still gets away with murder.

Great blog Harley!

In my case, being the youngest didn't mean I got away with murder, because I had 8 other people keeping an eye on me besides my parents. Plus, since my first nephew was born when I was 6, I was the babysitter of choice for all the nephews and nieces, since I could spend the night.

I did get away with not having to eat the gross stuff for dinner that Mom would make for Dad (creamed salmon and peas on toast, anyone?). She would let me eat something else, since by that time I was the only one home.

Great blog, Harley!

I am the oldest child -- and all the stuff those studies say about me is true.

I admit it!

Now, somebody go get me some coffee.

XO,
Lisa

Soooo....I'm reminded of Lion in Winter when the youngest pimple faced son says that if he was on fire no one would even piss on him to put it out.
I'm the oldest of the perfect 50's family. Stay at home mom wearing pearls to clean the bathroom and a hard working shoe salesman father. My brother is 2 years younger but 3 years apart in school. I recommend this highly if anyone actually practices planned parenthood anymore.
Because I was first and the girl I was dressed like a doll and could do no wrong. My little brother? I tortured him. Tackled him and sat on his chest pinned his arms with my knees and made him think I was going to spit in his face. This went on until he got bigger than me. Getting him in trouble was my goal in life.
I did everything and perfectly. He struggled along. I took ballet...he tried tap. I took piano lessons...he strummed the guitar enough to get through Kum Ba Yah.
The poor thing. But back when Elementary, Junior and Senior High School 3 years apart, when I left for college he was just arriving at Senior High School. He wasn't called my little brother. He was himself. He also had my parents undivided attention for the first time in his life. He was Da Man!!!!! He was also too good looking for his own good. I told him to go out for gymnastics which he did excel at and made him develop a body to die for.
Most of us went out and had careers until the old biological clock said it's now or never if you want to experience the whole birth thing. So I only have one. (My brother has none that he knows of.)
And let me tell you as the only grandchild in both families my son has lived a charmed life so far. With red hair and blue eyes on top of that he might as well be Prince William.
First or last or only it is an interesting world, no?
Just saying.
With all the cousins I'm thinking Me, Margie comes from a big family.

I am the oldest of 3 girls, which was definitely a mixed blessing growing up. I had more responsibilities, including babysitting duty, but that meant that I got to boss my sisters around. I also got a few extra privileges, like getting snuck out of bed to watch The Adams Family with my parents.

Whether by birth order, natural temperament, or both, I was (am) the crusader of the bunch, which meant it was my job to take the heat for continually begging for pierced ears, the right to wear jeans to school, better curfew, etc. etc. etc. My sisters definitely reaped the benefits of many arguments over dinner.

The biggest downside for me was growing up with my parents' expectations of success and feeling that I never quite lived up to them. I struggle with that to this day, even though they are both gone.

Hi Harley, great blog!

I'm the oldest of 7 kids, but it's like my parents started a second family when I was 16 and had 2 more kids. These two could do no wrong and are spoiled rotten to this day. Out of the first five, the youngest of the five could also do no wrong, if you looked at her the wrong way, she screamed and you were in trouble. This worked until the other two were born. Then, I became a mom to those two, people told me all the time what beautiful children I had! To make matters worse, there was only one boy, a second born child who vied for power with me and to this day, my mom favors him over the others of the first five. The last two are still treated with special gloves. But, if anyone wants anything done, they call me. If anyone wants my dad to do anything, they call me. I will never not be the oldest or the most cajoling.

I am the only child and the only grandchild while my husband was the only boy with three sisters and falls 2nd to last. It has been an interesting combination...

Obviously, I didn't have anyone to babysit, but I didn't have anybody to do things with, either (or anybody to blame stuff on...it always seemed to be my fault!).

Everyone assumes that I'm spoiled rotten (not totally inaccurate at times...), but they only say that after they find out about my lack of siblings -as though I've had a complete personality overhaul with one statement.

Her, Margie is not at work today. She is celebrating President's Day
in her own way, which I hope does not involve the 'Head-o-State' toys
that Elaine found online.


Oh, lord, here's an email:

"No way would Me, Margie buy a
7.5" toy that reps our POTUS. It's bad foreign policy.
Should be at least 9. Geez."

Can't imagine who sent it to me.

I would guess Nancy as a firstborn. Kathy I petty much suspected was a firstborn. ;) I'm a firstborn, younger brother about 20 months younger. World class enemies for a long time growing up and it was apparently my job to aggravate him [and I took this very very seriously]. He learned to play drums at an early age and used the wall between our bedrooms for practice. I routinely wanted to kill him. I used to beat him up on a fairly regular basis until he got bigger than me, which was just completely unfair. He is now a 5th degree black belt, and we joke that I inspired his career. We also get along pretty well now, which surprises us both.

My husband is a firstborn, too. Just as obstinate as I am. Just as certain he's right. We could teach the UN a thing or two on negotiations.

LOL, Nancy. There's a mystery for you.

What a good topic. Oldest children are more often overachievers, so it doesn't surprise me to know that both Kathy and Elaine are the oldest. I'm also the firstborn of my family of four, with a sister following two years later, and brothers five and ten years younger than myself. Being the oldest definitely makes one bossy, as my youngest husband (both of my husbands have been the youngest in their families, hmmm) tells me all the time. The dynamic between us, though, is that he depends on me to be bossy, for a variety of reasons, some positive and some not.

My own kids are two different families. The oldest is 14 years older than my middle daughter, but she is an only child to her dad, with whom she lived for most of her growing up years, with her stepmom's also only child. She has the most interesting dynamic of all: she's my oldest (but since she didn't live with us until late high school, my middle one is also an oldest), but she's an only, but she also lived as an oldest to her first stepsis. Then her dad remarried again, and she became a middle child. I think half of her teenaged angst was birth order confusion. Her husband is an only, and until they had their son they were two of the most selfish people I ever know. (But I still love them both dearly.)

My middle daughter, as I said, is also an oldest (and research has shown that siblings born with a gap of 10 years or more tend to start over with birth order tendencies), and she is definitely the over-achiever type. Straight A's from kindergarten to graduation, six major scholarships (including two four-years and a National Merit finalist), school president in college, team captain in track, nationally ranked rock climber, etc., etc. Her little sister never tried to compete with her, but chose other, totally different paths, wisely, I thought.

By the way, in some families, a slightly younger male sibling with an older female sib ends up being the "oldest", most likely because of the way he is treated by his parents. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law were like this, textbook all the way. It always fascinated me to watch their interactions with their parents and each other.

Wow! A lot of classified information got unclassified today!

Another wrinkle in this whole business is who marries who. If a youngest marries an oldest, does he/she become too dependent? Or too pushed around?

And then there's the next generation. My sister-in-law (an oldest) reminds me to give my own firstborn the benefit of the doubt as she torments her siblings, because my natural inclination, being a baby myself, will be to side with the baby. It's a good point.

I'm the oldest of 2, and most of that is true. My brother is so laid back. And he got away with so much more than I ever could - and still does.

I think there might be something to that birth-order in marriage thing - my ex was the youngest, and too dependent, etc....

Nancie's right, I'm a firstborn. Guilty as charged!

I SOOO see this playing out in my kids. The older is quiet, responsible, an academic star, honorable, follows all the rules. The younger is charming, funny, social, creative, boisterous, a risk taker. But why? Is it just because we're more uptight with the older ones and more relaxed with the younger? Do we assign these roles to them without realizing? What???

I was my father's oldest; my 7-years-older brother was from Mom's brief first marriage (which led to her frequent admonition not to get married and have children too young). I think that left me with the overachieving and bossy traits of the first-born, which worked out well for a teaching career. I also remember the rare privilege of sneaking back out of bed to watch _The Vikings_ with my parents -- loved that handsome viking!
My baby sister's only child married an only child, and they have compensated for all that "only-ness" by having five! Their older daughter, not the oldest son, seems be exhibiting the responsibility and achievement traits, which I've heard is fairly common also.
Birth order is interesting indeed. My mom and dad both came from families of seven, and my mom's sis said that in their case, the oldest and youngest three girls formed two distinct social groups. Their only brother was the baby, and couldn't help but be spoiled for so many reasons.

Michele - I see that in my two, as well (they are almost 5 years apart). my younger son's comedy act is partly because he feels he needs to work a little harder to compete. (He really is pretty funny.) I just hope he won't cede the academic ground completely to his big brother.

DH and I are both first-born. Directive, self-confident, "take-charge" and not good at negotiation. I thought it was hysterical when he got a team-work award at work this year.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SusanCo!

Michele, I see it in my kids too. My oldest daughter's nickname was The Boss starting the minute her twin brother and sister came home from the hospital. Mindful of my own big sister's lament that she was ALWAYS babysitting and responsible for the endless number of younger kids, I've tried not to assign my daughter that role, but I can see she has a serious "it's all up to me" side of her that the other two simply don't have.

My youngest daughter, meanwhile, is on her way to being the next Jack Benny.

I chose "birth order" as the topic for a paper in my Intro to Psychology class in college. I thought it was fascinating then, and I still do. The research then indicated that first borns were responsible and focused on financial security. Middle borns were negotiators. The babies were free spirits, most likely to get parking tickets.

I think I was interested in this because my family had it all screwed up. The eldest, although very responsible and somewhat serious until the teen age years, became a party animal in college and displayed surprising irresponsible behavior. The middle child took on the role of responsible eldest and lost any negotiating skill. The youngest child held true to predictions and was a free spirit who never quite connected cause and effect.

Bea, I'm betting you were that middle child. ;)

Michele, I so picked you as an oldest. And my baby brother is definitely the comedian of our family.

My mother is from a family of nine, where she was smack in the middle. The "baby" of that family still acts like one, despite being in her mid-60's, and despite a lifelong chafing at being called the baby.

One of my best friends calls herself the "true middle child" because she has an older and younger each brother and sister. She also says that middle children raise themselves, which I've always thought an intriguing concept. Thank God I didn't have enough children to observe that firsthand.

Happy birthday to SusanCo!!

Yep, I'm the oldest, too. Those who know me best knew it right away. Hmm...

All these true confessions are fascinating.

Dear Hubby is a first born. My stepdaughter & my daughter are considered first borns because there is 11 years between them (and different mothers helps).

I am the 2nd born. In my father's family, it seems that the 2nd born has the longest life expectancy. My greatgrandfather, grandfather & my father were all 2nd borns that outlived all of their sibs. Interesting, isn't it? I was ignored for the most part and it didn't bother me in the least. The order is: sister, me, brother, sister. Six year dif between older sis, 12 months 9 days between me & my brother, then 9 years between him & younger sis. It is funny that out of the 4 of us, younger sis is the only one to graduate college & 'make something of herself'. She was/is spoiled when compared to the rest of us (and in reality, she isn't spoiled...my parents had nothing to spoil us with). I am the only one out of the 4 of us who is married. My younger sister takes care of my parents more than any of us (I'd like to say it is because she so much better at it than the rest of us, but truthfully...she gets along best with Mom) and gets the greater benefit from it.

Nancy, I just knew it! You started The Lipstick Chronicles, for one thing, and that has "oldest" written all over it. And I recall you shopping for the exact right thing to wear to your sister's wedding, and that's what my oldest sister (although not my oldest brother) would do for me.

There's another factor we haven't considered much and that's gender. My oldest brother is very responsible in key ways, and a complete airhead in others. The second oldest, my sister Mary, could run the world. And knit everyone sweaters and sing lullabyes while she's at it.

When people hear that I had 3 older brothers, they think I must have been spoiled rotten. HA, I wish! I was 'an accident' and felt like an outsider. There are 2 pictures of me, one my aunt took at my christening and one when I was 5.
Dad had already done the museums, ball games, circus etc with the boys, so didn't want to do them again just for me.
After we grew up, the boys all became electricians like Dad, so they could talk shop with him. I was just a dumb girl till I got on the PD, then we could talk guns.
too little too late.

Oh, Rita, that's breaking my heart.

Okay, I"m expanding my Youngest Child Self Help program to accommodate your situation. I'll work on it and get back to you. We'll probably have to create remedial photo opportunities, for starters.

My brother once asked what happened to that tremendous age difference between us (16 months), all those things I got to do because I was older. . . more responsible perhaps?
One of my nieces once wished she could be the middle child in her family. When I pointed out that would eliminate her two youngest brothers (who were at that destructive age), she just smiled and said, "I know." (and having had two younger brothers, I understood, though I was happier with my baby sis).

Thank you very much for the birthday wishes, they are appreciated.SusanCo

a lurker here, but I love this subject!

I am the youngest of three (10 years older bro, and 5 years older sis) and we fit the models perfectly. My sister? Long time family joke that she will run the world. People give her anything she wants because she is so dynamic...but, according to the studies, she had to be right?

My brother is responsible to a fault. At the same time...well, he took me to see Interview with a Vampire when I was 8 and I am hard of hearing in my twenties because of all the punk shows he took me along to!

And me...I live to make people laugh!

But to all you older-s out there, give the little ones a little more credit. A lot of the attention hogging things I did were very purposeful - to diffuse negative situations, to take peoples minds off their own problems, etc. etc.

Being the youngest definitely had downsides besides the pictures thing (which didn't happen to me because a) I was cute and b) my dad is into photography); even with our age difference, I followed my brother and sister through the same schools and they were/are such intelligent people that I was constantly being expected to be just as academically amazing, which I'm just not.

And I still can't talk to either of them about anything without getting an earful of advice... which I often know to be incorrect, but I let them think I'll take it ;)

Ha! My mother once told my 2nd sister that she wished she had stopped at just one. It wasn't anything personal; it was just my mother's way of saying that one was all she could handle. (My sister took it personally.) Pity, although not for me, that she didn't stop until four.

That obvious, eh Toni? Heh. I tell the family that I want my shot at irresponsibility, but I don't mean it. It makes me uncomfortable to even think about it.

I'm the youngest of three girls. Older sis- 5 years older, middle sis-2 1/2 yrs older. My older sister is great with numbers, travels the world with her hubby, takes control of our social events and likes to tell middle sis and I what to do. Middle sis is the free spirit, creative, artsy child. I have a little of both in me. My older sis was enough older than my middle sis to be raised in the 50s way, while middle sis and I grew up with the Beatles and Bob Dylan influence.

My older sis graduated from college in Business, I went to grad school in Land Planning and my middle sis got her GED after having two of her four kids. Now that her four kids are grown with their own families, my middle sis is in college and doing great.

Both of my sisters still say I was spoiled and got to do more than they did. I still say I was way cuter and deserved it. **sticking tongue out**

And Josh, my father always kidded my sisters and me about how it's easier to find a table for four than for five. Being the fifth person of my family, I just found it funny and wasn't offended at all...luckily for them.

Another advantage of being the youngest: my mom was too exhausted to check up on me. She went to bed at 9 pm by the time I was an adolescent, which suited me to a "t" . . .

Sorry to all the youngest children out there!! By the time you get past the first two children, you run out of energy to do everything you did for the first two, if anymore come after the third child, they are usually SOL as well, unless it was like my family, second batch of kids arrived after my 16th birthday. Started the process all over again.

Happy Birthday, Dear SusanCo . . . (imagine beautiful singing voice here ;-)
Becky, my father made a kitchen table out of a door, easily sat seven, room for company even!
My mother used to say she wouldn't take a million dollars for one of her (five) kids, nor would she give a nickel for another one!

I'm the youngest of 3 - though not typical. My brother is 8 yrs older and sister is 15 yrs older than me. My sister raised me from 4th grade on - so she is a combo - Mom/sister. She definitely is the caretaker of the family.

On the subject of Eldest - I worked with a woman who was a terror to those who worked for her. After chastising (to put it mildly) a subordinate, Art (who didn't work for her, thus safe) asked her if she was the eldest sister. She said yes, how'd he know. "Because my oldest sister is exactly like you."

SusanCo, a belated Happy Birthday from me too!

I wish I saw this earlier today, I think this explains why we have become pals.

I am the youngest and I think I write because I can complete my sentences better than when I speak. Why do the older ones insist upon completing the younger one's sentences?

Because they can, Cinema Dave. Because they can.

We were a family of 2 post war babies and three prewar babies--all girls. The two oldest were in their teens when we three came along.
I am the middle child of the post war.

DH is an only.

Sooooo late here.....but for the record......when I was among the women organizing rape crisis centers in PA......we all realized one night over a bottle of Irish whiskey that we were all first borns..........just sayin'

yes, Mary Alice, I figured you for a first born. Thanks to all the big sisters out there, without whom we'd all be wandering the streets aimlessly.

Being the youngest, we at least learned from our siblings mistakes...I hope...I pray.....

I read a book called "Growing Up First Born" (subtitled The Pressure and Privilege of Being Number One). I think my youngest sister gave it to me. Figures. Its worth reading. Anyway I am the oldest of 3 girls. I was always told to set a good example for my sisters. What a burden! It ticked me off that when we looked at baby pictures in slides or 8mm home movies that we had to say ALL the babies were my youngest sister or she would cry. Of course there were more pictures of me and I have the most complete baby book. I mean, come on, by the time you get to the third one you've seen all the cute stuff babies can do and besides, who has time? You've got THREE kids to take care of. Cute is no longer a priority. I was closest to the middle sister and she was close to the youngest but as I looked back I realized I didn't know my baby sister until adulthood.
Most of my life she was just a cute little freckled face kid who lived down the hall. When I got my driver's license I was also given a car. I mean, I was the oldest, and so responsible, right? A convertible---sounds cool, right? Ha, it was a taxi for younger sibilings and their friends! We did have a kind of pact between the 3 of us. We never told on each other because we each held something over the other one's head. Pretty neat and it worked for a long time. I found out later that my sister's were in awe of how smart I was. The middle sister was the one who was really into clothes and makeup and the youngest seemed to get everything she wanted. They said I was (and apparently still am) bossy and a know it all. Well, wasn't that my job in life? To find out everything, pass it on to my sisters? I am not bossy I just know what they should be doing! LOL!

I don't probably have too much to add here just A Meaningful (read: giggle-inducing and not at all meaningful) Observation. Which is that Harley, honey? You wrote about being the Village idiot with a capital "V" which caused me to have 2 reactions. One is to remember "Villager" clothing (very big where I lived as a teenager, not by me, but by the matching plaid skirt-and-Papagallo crowd. I tend to believe ladybugs were involved)) and 'tother was to simply say "oh them actresses. Always remember their fabulous/bad old/broke but fun/artsy days back in the West Village (or maybe the East Village?)

But here, I will made you a deal. A secret signal or an agreed-on color that we can use at those parties to seek each other out. Of course, the mere IDEA that you would be intimidated at a party reduces me to totally helpless giggles anyway.

But I ran something similar, years ago, past a bunch of friends who went to science fiction conventions, all of them startlingly interesting, smart, great conversationalists, kind, friendly and well-behaved. Every ONE of them admitted to worrying about how, when they couldn't find anyone at a convention, they were convinced that either a) everyone else had gone to dinner and had deliberately snuck out a side door and/or b) they were all at the really secret COOL party. Yep. The cool people worried about that as much as anyone. (and yep, my friend John and I made a pact to find each other in that situation. Except, um, well, since then, i've never been able to find him....)
Younger of two, dunno what that means about me. but um, okay, I have been arrested/done the demonstration thing. Yep.

Families of 7 sort of startle and intimidate me. i just figure you know so many ways of coping I guess, no matter where you are in the list.

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