Saturday, October 20, 2007

Third Born Reality

I need to start by saying I love all my children. I have a different connection with each of them. With Jake? It’s the first born, third child syndrome.

I was a first-born of my birthmother but was adopted into a family as a third child. Jake, first born of Jeanine, is the third child. It provides some interesting moments.

I believe birth order behavior is a combination of innate and learned. I have been asked so many times in my life if I was the oldest.

To which I respond, No, just the smartest.

“Firstborns are typically and believed to be serious, conscientious, directive, goal-oriented, aggressive, rule-conscious, exacting, conservative, organized, responsible, jealous, fearful, high achieving, competitive, high in self-esteem, and anxious.”

Uh… Yup, that’s me.

“The youngest child of the family is viewed as the party animal, the entertainer who is unafraid to test his or her luck. They are also thought of as the baby of the family and an outgoing charmer. While this is certainly not true of all youngest siblings, proponents of this theory state that the youngest of the family is an endearing, and delightful friend.”

If that weren’t enough, “Youngest children may become manipulative and control-seeking if their sibling(s), parents, or other peers are overbearing or bossy.”

The only non-bossy, have to be right no matter what person in this family is Zachary.

And the dog.

Right on again. I am, I hope, a good friend. I am also willing to put on wig, heels and lip synch a routine in front of a crowd. Sure, I’m fearful of it, but I still do it. I flirt endlessly, and will fight for blood when it comes to, golf, football or scrabble. And I am, as a friend once said she was described as, “often wrong but never in doubt.”

I live somewhere in the middle of both descriptions. Serious, aggressive, party animal, entertainer, responsible, fearful, a charmer, and very anxious.

So does Jake. He and I are like two peas in a pod. It’s a little scary sometimes.

This morning, Jake screamed at me because I told him to turn the TV off. For one, Ben at seven would have spent half his life in his room for such a behavior. Jake, as third child, gets away with a timeout on the couch next to me.

No rule following for him.

He says to me, even though he has been told to be silent, This family stinks.

He’s going for the buttons. Manipulative is one very good description of him.

But I’ve got that covered, because I am, too.

I hate all of you.

I nod. Keep reading.

I want to run away forever.

Jake? You are to be QUIET. Not a peep. Timeout starts over again, back to minute one.

Because I am bossy and controlling.

OKAY OKAY OKAY! He shouted.

This is what got him here in the first place. Again, Ben’s consequences would have been over the top. I took a deep breath and ignored him.

He eyed me for a more direct hit...

You are EVIL. Then he added, I wish I was homeless.

I have to be honest. I wanted to burst out laughing at that point. Because he’s looking at me, peeking through a hole in a blanket he has covering his head, completely looking to gauge my reaction.

I want to kill myself, He added because now he’s going for the gusto.

I look over at Jeanine to be sure she stays quiet. She leaves to take a shower giving me the silent point, which means take care of this...

When Jake was four, and we were living in Rochester, he once said he wanted to die while having a fit. Jeanine bought into it hook line and sinker and was ready to kill herself over the agony of what she felt was our horrible parenting that would lead to this.

Personally, I thought he was looking for the way to yank our chain the best.

Being directive, smart and manipulative, he found it.

As Jeanine called the school to find out a therapist's name...

I wedged in next to him far back in his closet where he had retreated and asked him what would happen if he died.

I'd get to watch TV by myself and no one would change the channel.

I nodded. I can see why that sounds good.

I love my boy. He’s just like me. Once when I was a kid I told my mother I was running away. She said fine, but you have to clean your room first.

Well… I wasn’t ABOUT to do that, so I folded my arms across my chest and sat on the edge of my bed, not moving for no one, no how.

Controlling and charming all at once.

Just like Jake who continued to peek from his blanket. I finally turned to him, pulled the blanket down and said, Listen. I want this over, too. Sit here, not a peep, five minutes. Then we can be done.

He scowled and I pulled the blanket back down on his face.

He made it three minutes and I gave up.

“The youngest child is often babied or "pampered" more than the other siblings. This "pampering," according to Adler, is one of the worst behaviors a parent can bestow on a child. "Pampering" can lead to dependence, and selfishness as well as irresponsibility when the youngest enters adulthood.”

Listen… I wasn’t pampering him, I was tired, in need of a second cup of coffee and a five-minute punishment was into its second half hour.

And there you have it. The reality of the third born.


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