Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Oldest of Seven

As aozora guessed, I am the first born, the oldest of seven in fact. There is of course great debate within my family (and presumably, if the average family size were not 3.14, the nation at large) whether it is more difficult to be among the youngest children, the middle children, or the oldest children. As a member of the latter group I'm predisposed to argue that we had it the worst, though I am sympathetic to the merits of the other group's arguments as well.

I think many of the arguments are the same regardless of the family. Generally the oldest feel that their parents were the harshest with them, and then mellowed as they had more kids. In retrospect given the general laxity of parenting in general, being dealt with more harshly has almost certainly turned out to be a good thing, but it's hard to communicate that to my sullen, past self, or even to my own children. There is also the issue of being thrust into a pseudo-parent role, that older kids in big families have. The record would clearly reflect that I changed more diapers than my two younger brothers, including cloth diapers, the grossness of which can hardly be hyperbolized.

To these two more general complaints I would add another, almost as widespread, that as the oldest you grow up during your parents poverty. I don't remember precisely what age I was when we got our first color TV, but I know I had hit double digits. Before that it was a 13" Black and White with volume adjustment that largely depended on jumping up and down near the TV and then forebearing movement in that room entirely once you had hit the sweet spot. This is not to say that we were poor, or deprived in any real sense just that those that followed had things better. Obviously I could go on, but those that, like me, were the oldest are already nodding along vigorously and those that weren't have already dismissed this entry as run-of-the-mill propaganda.

Could things be any more Dickensian?


Anonymous john said...

I'm the youngest of 4 and would have to agree with everything you said. I was by no means "spoiled" but did have it much easier compared to my sister, the oldest.

The harshness/strictness the first experiences I think can be attributed to parental ignorance, for the most part. Or maybe it's just that by the time the youngest hits the same age the parents have just given up on trying as hard being too worn out.

I'm going to try to make sure that the youngest doesn't end up with a car when the oldest never had one. Or maybe I'll be too worn out and not care. :)

11:56 AM  
Anonymous ed said...

I'm the middle, and I'd say I didn't have it the roughest... none of us did, really. Although I think each area presents its own challenges.

What I think matters more is that we're growing a whole society where most kids will NOT have any real extended family (not a large number of siblings, or aunts/uncles/cousins). Being an only child is fine, I think, but it helps having friends with larger families. But if everyone is a single child, and the parents are projecting their self-image on that one child, I think we're due for some messed-up kids soon, or at least less-socially able ones.

5:46 PM  
Blogger aozora said...

Seven?! Wow! Awesometastic.

Sounds like I'm on the lower end of the scale here. I'm the eldest of three and while some things were harder for each I think I was granted some graces for being first on the scene in exchange for "knowing better because you're older". Nothing serious but maybe more laughs at my jokes and sundry extras.

I think we had the same model TV too. It is amazing to think back to the "clack, clack, clack" dial with all of three channels available.

4:45 AM  

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