siblings siblings and more siblings

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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.

26 thoughts on “siblings siblings and more siblings

  1. I was about ten years old, my mom sent me and my younger brother Billy to the local hamburger joint to get lunch for my siblings one summer afternoon (back then it was safe for your kids to do such a thing) I was instructed to buy hamburgers and french fries for all of us. I was standing at the counter with my nine year old brother next to me placing the order as any ten year old would do, with a honest way about it, no smile just the needed words to get across my wants, of course the person on the other side of the counter was a teenage boy (that’s the only type of employee that worked for that establishment in those days). I simply ordered the twenty hamburgers and fries my mom requested nothing more nothing less, no wise cracks nothing. Of course the teenage boy behind the counter gave me a look as if I was wasting his time and then said “shut up kid and tell me what you want” at which time I looked at my little brother as if I didn’t understand the problem, he just looked back an shrugged his shoulders as if to say “I don’t know what this guys problem is”. I turned back and repeated the order thinking that he didn’t here me correctly, of course this time he spoke with some anger in his response saying that if I don’t stop joking around he will send me on my way, at which time I said I was not joking. At this point the teenage boy was very red in the face and said if I was serious then pay first and he will put the order in. I handed him a twenty dollar bill (hamburgers were only fifteen cents back then) he took the money very slowly and was looking at it closely as he looked back at me to see my reaction, looking back at the twenty, back at me, at the twenty, making sure it was real or something, pausing and starring at me waiting for me to say or do something, but it was just two boys standing there thinking about eating a yummy hamburger and fries. With no response from me he placed the order and gave me my change, no comment, no smile, no thank you, just a slow movement as if he was in the “twilight zone”. He placed the food in the bags and handed them over to me and my brother at which time we left in a hurry because we new that the quicker we got home the quicker we can enjoy the hamburgers and fries. #7 Siblings, siblings

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  2. This was an interesting post. I can certainly see how you would take on different birth order traits. You are the first girl after a long time and that certainly gives you the first born personality; however, you were probably babied with so many older brothers, and that would give you last born traits. Then again, you have one younger, so maybe there would be some middle child in there, too.

    Although I am the youngest, when working in groups, I’ll often take on the responsibility role, probably because the four year gap between sister and me restarts the birth order again, yet I have the light hearted traits of a youngest child, too. It’s complicated.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

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    • Oh, no Joyce.. i was not babied, by anyone. I was just a kid within a big group… tagging people with certain personality traits based on their place within a family is too complicated…

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    • i have the big family, yet don’t interact much with the cousins… how ironic is that? nothing is ever perfect perfect, is it….

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    • so true, rinelle, so many people are fascinated with the big family idea, but there are drawbacks.. for me, mostly, when i reflect, is not getting the attention any small child would like… yet, i am very independent because of that… so it’s not so bad after all…

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  3. First let me say it’s wonderful that include two brothers who have passed. Not including them sounds like they never were and yet they are part of who you became.
    Second I wanna say I so love reading your memories. I feel like you just open up and say, “Come on in, I have a story to share.” I’m always glad I came in.

    I do love your writing style and I do adore you.

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    • Hi, Jo. I’ve never understood when people don’t include loved ones who have passed… as far as i am concerned they are still my brothers, nothing changed that…. thanks for staying tuned. 🙂

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  4. So interesting, Daphne! I’m one of those people who is fascinated by large families. I’ve often thought how cool it would be to have many siblings (I have just one). Really enjoyed how you explained your place in the family.

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    • thanks, helene…. i really just wrote off the top of my head, thinking about conversations i’ve had… i’m not sure they went as smoothly as my writing because lots of what’s said gets sidetracked with everyone’s story.. this way i got it all out without being interrupted..(he he)…

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  5. I always wanted a big family, both when I was a child and when I had children of my own. It didn’t happen for me, which maybe was for the best, but I love big families. Thanks for sharing about yours!

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  6. Loved reading about your big family. I’m one of 8 kids. 6 girls, 2 boys. And I can totally relate to the weird, astonished responses I get if I ever mention this fact. Our house was also only 3 bedrooms and one bathroom. What saved us was the 10+ mostly wooded acres of land where us kids would play. Thanks to my hardworking parents, we made it work.

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    • so, tell me, kate…. what’s it like with a house full of girls?… you must have had lots of clothes to share (lol)…. i did dig into the piles of jeans and t-shirts meant for my brothers (and that’s my preference today… that’s what i’m most comfortable wearing)… 🙂

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  7. Daphne, I love, love, LOVE this article. The way you wrote it, your style, the content and the little look into your life. I mean I knew you Daphne but I didnt really know you. Thanks for the candid, reflective stories you post. “Memoires of Daphne” – such a great gift to leave for your kids.

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    • oh my gosh, jeanine, thank you. i guess this blog is where i get to talk, without interruptions, and if anyone is interested they will read… no pressure, at all.

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  8. My father came from a large family (11, as well, but three died in childhood), and they all defy the “ranking system” that most people seem to want to ascribe to. The eldest boy and girl are/were both definitely “in charge” and the baby was definitely pampered by his four older sisters and his mother, but the middle ones, including my father? Defy the pigeonholes. 🙂

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  9. Love it. We all use such canned phrases, don’t we? (and I love that you include ALL your brothers, that is important to me too)

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