Sometimes, when I’m sitting around, in a group of, I don’t know, people discussing the subject of families, you know, the size of them, the effects of the first born, the middle child, and the baby I often hear the sentiments Oh, I’m an only child, there was no one to compete with someone might say, or Me? The typical middle child, I’ve been overlooked most my life, or What about the baby? Yep, someone will announce, I was spoiled and, of course, the oldest child pipes in with I had to do everything, help out and was expected to be the perfect role model. I usually just listen until I feel ready to contribute. And, of course, that depends on how much time I have, or how truly interested anyone is.
Say what!? most people exclaim when I casually tell them that I am one of 11 siblings. Oh, yes, it’s true, I tell them. I have 9 brothers and 1 sister. And then I go into my whole spiel. I guess I would be classified as the youngest, except I am not. I have a brother who is three years younger than me. Seriously, someone might say. Seriously, I respond. And of course they always want to know why my parents had so many kids, but, honestly I can only guess because I don’t know, that that is really something only they know the reason why. So wait, really 9 brothers? And what about your sister? Are you close in age? Really, 9 brothers, I say, in my mind, nodding my head up and down. And no, my sister and I are thirteen years apart. She’s number one, I’m number ten. I guess she’s your classic first born, someone who innately is able to take charge. Well, wait, I backtrack, I definitely have 9 brothers, but two of them have died. Both unexpectedly. Sometimes other people don’t add the lost sibling in their total count. But I do. I always do, I think to myself.
Life must have been crazy, loud, chaotic, an interested person may ask. Nope, I state. Not in my recollection. Everyone seems to basically have had a calm attitude. Just like my parents. And honestly, I’m guessing here, but I think a house full of no-drama-boys is a lot easier than a house full of chatty girls. I don’t know, maybe I am wrong, I think to myself. Then, someone wonders, You must have lived in a big house, with enough bathrooms? I shake my head. That would have been great, but no. Just a three bedroom house, and one bathroom. My brothers were piled on bunk-beds in one room, my sister and I shared another. Mesmerized listeners can’t seem to believe it. So, you’re one of the babies? someone asks. Well, sure, but I’d probably be, personality wise, more of a middle child. I’ve always figured, that with big families you really need to divide them up. In our case, by groups of three, although one group would be a foursome. Then kids are classified. First. Middle. Baby. But wait, let me think about that. No. Never mind. I take that back. I honestly don’t know how to divide us. Rather than first (well, okay, that one is obvious, and so is the baby) but there is no middle. Or are there? Middle kids? Yes. No. Maybe so. Middle kids in big families are basically in the middle. Just that. Middle. Kids.
I can’t seem to fathom the idea of so many kids, someone lacking siblings may move the conversation along. Well, I state, honestly, when I was younger, I used to say, wholeheartedly, that someday I would have a large family too, that I would have 11 children. Wide-eyed people listen. But, you know, the reality is, as I came to that point in my life, the time to plan a family, it just wouldn’t work for me. I wanted to be able to give each and every one of my children my undivided attention. That’s hard when there are almost a dozen kids to attend to. Makes sense, someone states. But, I will say, I did enjoy growing up as a tomboy. Boys are fun. My brothers let me tag along when they were catching spiders and salting snails. And even though my sister, a teenager when I was small, never felt the urge to teach me her hair and makeup tips, she did let me tag along to the grocery store, letting me pick something, anything, I wanted to add to the almost full basket.
Just to clarify, someone questions So, where do you stand on the rung of first, middle, and baby? I think for a minute. I think about me. About who I am. About how I deal with life, with people. I seriously think about if I take charge, have I been overlooked, or am I the spoiled sort. And then I answer. I am a first born – I can take charge, but don’t need to be in charge. I am a middle child – It is easy to overlook me because I am quiet and reflective, yet when I need or want attention I will seek it. I am the baby – the youngest girl, that is. But, you might think being the second girl, being the baby girl, would have rewarded me tons of rewards, spoilage of all sorts, but it didn’t. Therefore, I think I can safely say, and truly believe, I am an accumulation of more than just a place within a large family.