My in-laws spent the night last night. This morning, while enjoying a few minutes on the porch, we got to talking about their first-born son, my husband. J, my father-in-law, was telling my girls about how their dad paid for most of his college education, something we all agreed would be impossible to do today.
The girls sat spellbound as their grandpa practically burst his buttons telling them about how hard their dad had worked all his life. He even took his first job—a paper route—at age 8. He has since held jobs as a butcher shop cleaner, a grocery bagger, a park district worker, and then into banking. We regaled stories from college when, during our senior year, B worked 40 hours a week while also taking a full load of classes.
He’s such a first-born.
Now, my in-laws have every reason to be proud of their son. My husband. B works hard. He’s always worked hard for everything he has. I’m proud of him too.
But as they talked, Abby and I caught glances between us and smiled. We’re both middle children and, according to all the “birth order” stuff that’s out there, we’re not quite as industrious as those first-borns ahead of us. We like to take things as they come, which makes us more flexible and easy-going. It also makes us more independent (which, I have to add, my darling Abby most certainly is, and I would guess my mother would say the same about me). But would we choose to work when we could play? Ah, probably not.
Eventually the conversation turned to my own first-born, Kate. We quickly realized that she has held jobs for a good portion of her life thus far. She babysits, she’s scooped ice cream, and now she shelves books in the library. All before her 18th birthday.
She’s such a first-born.
This trait in my daughter became even more glaring to me this afternoon. As I sat with my computer, she said, “Hey, Mom. Why don’t you sign me up for the ACT test in September while you’re sitting there?”
Huh? She’s already taken the ACT test, and she did very well. So I asked her, “Why are you taking it again? You did fine.”
But “fine” wasn’t good enough. She wanted to see if she could do better. The middle child in me could no more comprehend wanting to take that test a second time than I could imagine flying to the moon. Why on earth would she put herself through that to get one or two points higher?
I’m such a middle child.
So I registered her for the test. But during the registration process the student has to answer all kinds of questions, so, of course, I had to ask her the questions.
“How far away would you like to go for college?” Less than 10 miles. (Just kidding! That’s my personal bias coming out, but we did have a good laugh about that one.)
“What field of study would you like to take?” What else? Literature.
“What’s the highest level of academic degree you would like to achieve?” I wonder if she saw my jaw drop to the floor when she said, “I’d like to get a Ph.D.”
Such a first-born.
How about you? Where are you in the birth order? I'd love to hear your stories.