Our oldest child, Pepper, is actually the biological youngest in a large family. In many ways, she is the typical oldest, somewhat rigid and rule abiding, a little overly directive at times, “old” for her age. Starting at age 2, she has frequently been described by others as “wise beyond her years.” Yet, long before she fully comprehended or even knew about her extensive birth family of mostly boys, she longed for an older brother and begged us to adopt lots of kids so she could have a big family.
She has many “youngest child” characteristics too, such as being scatterbrained and a dreamer. Her room is a frightful chaotic mess, and she is still quite warm and lovable. While she is certainly capable of leadership, she often allows others to lead and feels responsible for her friends’ upsets and troubles.
A middle child myself, I am clearly such. My older sister is very certainly the oldest, and both my brothers, born 9 years apart, are the indisputable “baby of the family.” I find it completely fascinating how something in our wiring – perhaps in our DNA? — knows our “place.”
The recent case in point is our 2-year-old, fondly called The Blitz. Around here, he is definitely the baby, spoiled and okay, a little given to tantruming when he doesn’t get his way. He is not, however, the biological baby; his new half-brother was born when we was 17 months old. He does not know this baby yet and though he sees his birth mother on occasion, sees himself as my baby and the baby of this family.
So when brought in a foster infant last week, I fully expected mutiny. This is a child who can destroy a room in seconds while having fun; I was dreading what he might do when thinking himself displaced by this tiny interloper.
Much to my surprise, however, biology kicked in and he stepped it up. At only 2, The Blitz is not yet known for his compassion and concern for others, but this baby has brought it out in him. When the baby cries (rarely, actually), he tries to help. “Baby sad, Mommy? Baby hungry? I find baby toy?”
He still wants his “lap time” with mommy every day, but rather than being more temperamental, he has in fact been sweeter and more patient. I credit this unexpected dearth of loving behavior to his biological knowledge that he is not, in reality, the youngest and the world actually does not revolve around him. It’s amazing.
Photo Credit: Dreena T