Monday, June 9, 2008

Oldest child gets even

I think my parents are masochists because they had eight kids. I was the first and because I am so awesome they had and adopted seven more, but being the oldest I got screwed.

I was pretty much a human guinea pig, I think all first children are. You get to be somebody’s crash course in parenting with the hope that your parents learn something and you survive. Then, whatever they learned on you they can apply to the other kids, if they are brave/foolish enough to have more.

In addition to being raised by experienced people, the younger kids have it better in a lot of other ways. The biggest disparity is money. My parents had me when they were in college so we never had anything. I played with jars full of dimes and empty spools of thread and dirt. Now my parents are established and doing pretty well for themselves my brothers and sisters rooms are overflowing with toys that all run on batteries. I can’t even imagine.

We drove the crappiest cars too. I can’t even count all the times we were stranded on the side of the road in some junk heap. Now my parents have nice, or at least nicer, cars that were manufactured within the last twenty years. And, the most important distinction between the two eras is that the cars of my childhood never had working air conditioning or were manufactured before air conditioning was invented. I’m just sorry that my brothers and sisters will never have the opportunity to take a road trip in the back of a non-air-conditioned station wagon because heat stroke builds character.

Now my parents are extremely liberal with their money, they practically throw it at my younger siblings. When I was a kid and I would ask for money my dad would say, “Do you think money grows on trees?” And I would think, “No, do you think I would be having this conversation if I could simply go outside and pick money off a money tree instead?”

So their parents have experience and money, and if that’s not enough the younger siblings can get away with way more stuff because my parents aren’t as smart, or maybe as motivated, as they used to be. My little brother Quinn got sick with the flu and discovered that when you are sick you get to stay home from school and get out of doing stuff. He’s well now, but whenever there’s something he doesn’t want to do or there are vegetables he doesn’t want to eat he just says he is getting sick. I’m surprised Old Mom hasn’t caught on, Young Mom would’ve gotten hip to that right away. Or maybe Old Mom is on to him but is too tired to care.

There are a few perks to being the oldest. For instance, I did learn how to swear very early on. My dad was really good at it when I was younger and so my development in that area was advanced. He has totally mellowed with age, though, and is not quite so articulate these days, so my younger siblings will have to wait until they get into public school to learn.

But advanced profanity aside, I do think I got the raw deal. Of course, when I became an obnoxious, self-absorbed, bratty teenager my parents used to say to me “Well, if we had known that cute little children grew up into this, we would have stopped having them! Now we’re stuck with a whole bunch!”

That is how I get even.