Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Your Birth Order's Up

Remember back a few years when there was this book on Birth Order and how it affected personality and problem solving and creative thinking and leadership and all that non-tangible jazz? Being a first born, I naturally presumed it was nonsense and refused to get “sucked into” such things, except apparently, that’s what firstborns do. They think they have to invent the wheel and spend their whole lives discovering it’s okay to ask older and younger people for help and learning to reach out to others rather than rely solely on themselves.

Firstborn being married to a firstborn, this problem gets compounded when we look at our own firstborn. He keeps thinking if he asks for help, be it from a teacher, parent or friend, he is somehow failing to acquire knowledge properly. Explaining that asking for help to make sure one “gets it” with respect to simplifying quadratic equations or analyzing “Romeo and Juliette” is a sign of maturity and intelligence, so far has been a tough sell.

Second borns are more scrappy and this is true, although I kind of feel our second views herself as a first born as well. I know the second son feels much more like the fighting type than the first two, and struggles because he compares himself to someone twice his age. Explaining that a 2nd grader should not grade himself against a 9th grader has worked about as well as discussing with the firstborn that he should seek assistance when needed.

The middle child is an accommodator, one who diffuses situations by humor or by not being part of the power struggle. She committed to this philosophy at an early age and specializes in becoming invisible when fights break out. Not only is she the queen of Hide and Seek, she also can disappear in plain sight, transforming herself from the instigator of a fight over the Nintendo to the innocent bystander with a mere placing of her hands behind her back. I foresee a promising career for her in espionage, as no one is more tight-lipped about classified information. “Who ate all but the last spoonful of chocolate ice cream and left the carton in the freezer?” I may know intuitively, but baring a DNA test, I’ll never prove it in a court of law.

The next step is the baby, but I have at the moment, two to four candidates vying for that slot in the order, each taking turns to make compelling arguments for the job.

Which leaves poor number 5, who has four older and three and one pending younger, trying desperately to make sure she isn’t drowned by sheer numbers and somehow stands out. In my estimation, she’s doing a great job. She wears outfits that make her unmistakably original –usually a dress with tights, shorts, heels, sparkly things and an accessory of some sort that brings the whole thing together –a boa, hat, skates, wings, sixteen bangles, four pony tales and ribbons plus homemade jewelry. Any attempt to modify her self expression is viewed as a personal attack. Fortunately, the uniform policy of the school takes care of this problem 9 months out of the year, five days a week. I can live with the glitter glamour girl the rest of the time.

My problem? There Aren’t any Parenting Books on the Psychology of #6 through 9.

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