We may not want to admit it, but sibling order within our families can affect our personalities for life–and even our worldviews as writers. Read on to find out where each of us Chicks fits in–and whether our “special” traits fit the chart!
I’m the oldest in my family and the only girl. I’m not gonna lie, this has made me a bit of a golden child. But it’s also heaped a lot of responsibility on me. The rest of the family expects me to take the lead in a lot of decisions, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy about the choices I make. I find sibling order fascinating because it’s a great aspect of creating character. In fact, I have a screenshot of how birth order breaks down on my desktop (see photo). I like the positive boxes that I tick off as the firstborn: “natural leader, high achiever, on time.” But I also must own to the negatives: “know-it-all, bossy, adult pleaser.” At least my brothers would make me own these qualities. Especially “bossy.”
I don’t have a brother, though I pestered my mom nonstop for one until I learned exactly how baby brothers came to be. I’m a hybrid, actually—Youngest and Only—because my sister is 16 years older and we had very different childhoods. She knew my parents when they were very young, both fresh from the Navy and starting out in life. Because of my dad’s job, she moved a lot and attended a different school practically every year. She married early and settled across the country, starting her own family by the time I was six. I guess you could say I had a fair amount of “Me” time with my parents—maybe a little too much. But I had plenty of time to read, and my mom was a librarian, so that worked out well. I adored school, not because I was a budding scholar, but for the opportunity to socialize with other kids. I would like to claim all the best traits from both categories, because I am neither demanding nor financially irresponsible. Well, most of the time, anyway.
I’m the baby of the family. And while it’s no big surprise that we crave attention, it makes perfect sense. By the time the third or fourth kid is born, parents are no longer impressed by normal kid stuff. (“Oh my God, look, he’s walking! He’s so evolved! He said ‘Dada.’ I bet he’s going to be a writer.”) While firstborns almost always have a baby book to commemorate every last second of their development, later kids can get overlooked. My parents don’t remember what time I was born or what my first words were, because nobody thought to document it at the time. And it takes a lot to stand out among your siblings, who are already years ahead of you developmentally. So what’s a younger sibling to do for attention? You put on your tutu and yell, “Look what I can do!” while you juggle bowling balls and crack jokes. Yeah, sometimes we’re kind of annoying. But that’s what little brothers and sisters are for.
I’m not sure the traditional traits assumed by first-born children apply to me. Natural leader, organized, high achiever, punctual—all better describe my sister, who falls between me and baby brother in the birth order. While we were dating, my husband, as an only child, was fascinated by my sibling relationships. One conversation in particular stands out. We were having a family dinner at my parents’ home. My sister was whining about how bad middle children have it, a favorite complaint of hers. She said something like, “Middle children have deep-seated emotional problems because they were ignored as children.” Without missing a beat and while shoveling mashed potatoes onto his plate, little brother shot back, “Maybe they were ignored as children because they had deep-seated emotional problems.” The conversation moved on and none of us gave it another thought. But, as I later learned, my future husband was taken aback by the casual but good-natured (for the most part) sniping that is typical of the sibling experience. At least in my family.
Oldest here (insert sound of bones creaking). Some of the characteristics listed apply, but not all. For example, right below “obeys the rules,” I think it should say “rebels against rules”; many of the first-borns I know have a love/hate relationship with them. As in: we feel compelled to follow rules until we think we can see a better way of doing things. Then we want to change the rules, and if no one agrees with our Much Improved Rule Replacement, then we might be inclined to openly rebel. My sister, the youngest, is incredibly creative and super funny, plus a thousand other wonderful things. (Yes, I know that third thing is not listed on the chart. Also, I reject the negatives in that category, which do not apply. See? Rebellion.)
Readers, what was your place in the family–and does our handy sibling chart describe you?
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