“Sure I did,” I quickly responded. “You just don’t remember.” I acknowledge however, that my youngest did seem to have a way of doing things I would probably not have let his siblings.
The youngest hated being called, “the baby,” yet I couldn’t help myself. I found over the years I have clung to that expression. My youngest had a way of making me laugh at the oddest things, see things from a completely different perspective, and relax in the way I handled him, compared to his siblings. It was easy to do this, I rationalize, even now, years later. He was always easygoing, comfortable in most any situation, and helpful to both his father and me. Even as a teenager he would clear the table for me, and as quickly, help his dad in the garage.
Did I show favoritism to my youngest? His siblings insisted I did, but I hope not. That wouldn’t have been fair to the others. They didn’t tell me this with animosity, but with a just hint of jealousy.
The oldest had her “time” of favoritism, I would argue. She was the only child for a while and had all the attention not only from both parents but from both sets of grandparents. The second one came along and she was the “baby.” It was her turn to be favorite, yet the oldest still had “seniority” and was still special. When baby number three arrived she acquired the title of “the baby.” Still, the oldest was favorite for her position in the family; number two was favorite because I knew the unique-ness of being the “middle child” and disliked it myself growing up. So, all three girls were my favorites.
Then my first son came into our lives. He was special because he was the only son. He enjoyed all things boys should have, but that didn’t change the position the oldest held, nor the second and certainly not the baby girl.
I really hadn’t planned on another child but when I had baby number five; and knew with certainty it would be my last, he became the official “baby” of the family. Still all the positions the others held were firm. The oldest was still the oldest and had rights none of the others possessed. The second oldest was still cherished because I didn’t want her to feel left out being the middle child, although now she was only the middle daughter. The baby girl would always hold her position and thus be cherished; and the oldest son held a unique and prominent position in the family and then there was the baby.
Did I really treat him all that differently from the others? I really don’t think so. His siblings don’t recall the competition they all had against each other, but I can assure them, there was plenty, except when it came to him. The youngest is unique because he’s the last one left home. They all added to his “love circle” rather than competing for a space in the circle with mom and dad. His personality lent itself well to all this love and he gave, as well as received.
All our children are special and all hold a special part of our hearts. They are all cherished no matter how different they are from each other or their birth order. Their different-ness, in part, is what makes them special. I am able to see reflections of myself, my husband, parents, aunts and uncles in each of my children. It’s what connects them as part of the family. And family is what it’s all about. Each child has their unique characteristics, yet each is bonded together by their similarities. Each child’s unique-ness claims a special part in my heart and that will never change, whether I think about the first, the last and each in between. I suspect it’s that way in all families, and I submit, this is a good thing!