Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The pecking order

I think one of the most difficult things about having a big family, or should I say being part of a big family, is finding your place. The oldest gets the most privileges and can do the most for themselves. The youngest gets the most of mom and dad's attention because they need the most care. The toddlers get the most praise because they are constantly achieving new things. But what about that age where nothing new is really happening? What happens then? This is when the "pecking order" becomes very obvious. The other day Finley started sobbing in the car. I hadn't heard what Carter said to her, but by the intensity of her wailing, you'd think it was the most horrible, unimaginable thing ever. When she finally calmed down enough to get the words out, here's what she said . . . "Am I'm the boss of Scout? Carter said I'm not the boss of Scout!" This was what had shook her little almost 3-year-old self to the core. The fear that she was not in fact in charge of someone. To think she might be the lowest of the low men on the totem pole. Horror of horrors!! So I of course explained, as any mother of many children would do that Daddy and I were the big bosses, Piper was the boss of Trace, Trace was the boss of Carter and so on. So yes, she was the boss of Scout. Obviously I say this tongue in cheek, because I want each child to respect to his/her siblings and them all to exist in harmony as equally important and contributing members of this family. (I'm still waiting for the harmony part!) But I do think that there's nothing wrong with a pecking order - that is life. My mom tells the kids all the time that they have to listen because mom is the boss, and that will never change. They of course get a real kick out of it when Nana tells them that she is still the boss of me. And her mom is still the boss of her, etc. Let's face it, there's always someone we answer to, whether its God, our parents, our employer, our children or the authorities. I don't think its a bad thing, it makes us more conscientious of how we behave and often motivates us to be better at what we do. I tell Piper all the time, if you wouldn't be proud to have me hear about something you say or do, that's probably an indication that you shouldn't be doing or saying it. Hey, I'm 32 years old and I still appreciate my Mom's approval. No, I don't need it, but I still like to know that my mom is proud of me. I don't think that will ever change. I know my kids seek that same approval from Tim and I. We have witnessed a good deal of looking for attention from the other kids since Scout's arrival, and we try to reiterate that negative attention is not better than no attention at all. However, I try to be sympathetic to the fact that sometimes being part of a big family means it's easier to get lost in the shuffle when life gets hectic. I know when Finley starts telling me stories about her teacher and the kids in her class that she might need a little extra attention from me, considering she doesn't actually have a teacher or even go to school yet. So I play along, and aske her if she had a good day at school. And for now I'll let her be the boss of Scout . . .

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