Thursday, October 20, 2011

YOU’RE out of order!

I used to say to my mother, “You love Zeke more than you love me.” She said, “No, I hate you all equally.”
~~ Rahm Emanuel, when asked if there was a favorite child in his family
A few weeks ago, author Jeffrey Kluger was on “The Colbert Report” pitching his new book The Sibling Effect. As someone with two older sisters, I found it a very fun and interesting interview. I was happily surprised to see him get the cover of a recent Time issue. That article dealt more about favoritism, and I can’t speak to that. Did my Dad have a favorite daughter? Did my Mom? I never got the impression that any of us were the favorite. Although I’m sure that if they had to choose, it would be me.

I kid, I kid! I know for sure that Dad was proud of all of us, because he often said so, and Mom reiterates that now. My sisters and I are similar in a lot of ways, especially in being fairly easy-going and quick to laugh, but of course, we have our different traits, too. I’ve been fascinated by that for many years now, and have done a little reading on birth order. I recall getting a book about the subject, and as soon as it came in the mail, I opened it up and found the chapter about youngest children. This is what I read:

BLOCK First of all, I want all you babies of the family to know that I’m on to you. I know you have just skipped the first eight chapters and started right here. I understand. Like any last born, I would have done the same thing. I hope you’ll go back later to read some pretty important stuff you missed. (from The New Birth Order Book by Dr. Kevin Leman)

I laughed out loud. Busted! I did indeed go back and read the entire book, and enjoyed it. I found that I fit quite a few traits of last borns, but considering the large difference in ages between us (my sisters are 13 and 9 years older than me), I also have some characteristics of an only child. My oldest sister was out of the house by the time I went to elementary school, and the other was gone by the time I got to high school, so then it was just me and the parentals. As the baby of the family, I’m supposed to be charming, people-oriented, tenacious, affectionate and engaging, uncomplicated, and attention-seeking. The downside is that I’m also supposed to be self-centered, temperamental, spoiled, undisciplined, and absent-minded. According to Kluger, last-borns have a bright wit, a natural charisma, and perceptiveness. This ability to disarm and charm is developed as a survival skill in a setting where you’re the smallest. (I wonder if my lack of height also has something to do with that? Hm.)

SistersI’ll cop to all those good things, but I don’t accept the not-so-good ones! Nah, I know that I can be guilty of the latter behaviors. I like to think that my baby-of-the-family status is balanced out by some of the only-child characteristics, including being confident, a perfectionist, organized, logical, and scholarly. It has been said about me, “Well, Beth’ll do what she wants to do,” which is true; I’m glad to say that most of the time I’m fairly responsible about my decisions, although I have definitely made some bad ones. I have a rebellious streak in me, but I’ve tried to temper that a bit over the years. I was also rather painfully shy when I was younger, so the comedian in me didn’t come out until later. One of my favorite things is to make someone laugh!

I don’t think birth order defines us any more than our astrological signs define us, but it does make considerably more sense that our personalities would be shaped by our interactions with our parents and siblings, rather than by the influence of the stars.

How about you? Do your personality traits jibe with what is said about your birth order? Who’s the baby of the family like me? Email me so we can start a club and talk about how awesome we are, okay? [wink]


  1. My traits do indeed jibe with that of the middle child. Just think you might not have been so carefree if you hadn't had that middle child caring for you at times.

  2. I'm the baby and have no relationship with my older siblings. I think we're all happier that way.

  3. Even though you have siblings, you're technically an only child because of the age gap if I remember correctly. And yeah, I'm an only -- the super first born so to speak.

  4. I am the oldest and I think that is most evident in my ability to lead groups and make decisions... not to mention the confidence to head out into the unfamiliar and the unknown..!

  5. I'm number 9 out of 12 children. I think my mother had favorites! The ones who gave her less headaches! LOL

  6. Like you Beth I am the 3rd !! and there is 8 and 10 years between me and my two Sisters... like you I have an awful ot of the traits I have read about. !!! We are all different although my middle Sister Sarah and I were very close in thoughts and actions, Margaret and I are not really as close..
    Sybil x

  7. We are very similar, as we've discussed before. I am the youngest of 7 (6 girls, 1 boy). My Mom always said she raised 7 individuals and couldn't have a favorite. We are all similar in a lot of ways and very, very different in others. The oldest is 18 years older than I am. The one closest to me in age is six years older than I am. My oldest sister graduated from high school and got married one month after I was born. All my siblings were out of the house when I turned 14 and started high school. In many ways I was like an only child. I was painfully bashful when I was little and didn't really start to come out of it until the eighth grade when I discovered I actually had a talent -- writing. Also, I am only 5 feet tall. Hmmm.


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?