Off the Line: It’s good for the soul

Siblings. They are both a blessing and a curse.

Siblings. They are both a blessing and a curse. As most of you regular readers know, I come from a family of five children – three brothers, a sister and myself. I’m the middle child.

Sibling placement (birth order and personality) has always interested me.

The first time I became aware of such a thing as birth order was when my parents took us out to the Hanson’s lakeside home in Chicago for a Sunday afternoon tea and swim. Mom made us dress in our Sunday best (the swimsuits were packed for later) and inspected us carefully as she always did.

I didn’t mind the Sunday dress part, what I really disliked was the inevitable inspection.

Mom would have us line up in a row from oldest to youngest. Then, just like a professional drill sergeant, would proceed to inspect us one by one. She took that drill sergeant routine seriously; a little too seriously, I thought.

Especially when one would see her eyes widen, and then scrunch nearly closed in a concentrating squint as she singled out the offending child.

We knew what was coming next, and it was worse than the swat across the head or threats of grounding. Nope, mom had a better weapon than that. It was the weapon of all good mothers back then (after their arsenal of wooden spoons and worn-out threats to tell dad).

It was the stubborn cowlick or flyaway hair and the dirty faces which always brought out the worst in our own personal drill sergeant. It was the old puckering of her lips and then a quick “patooie” onto her fingertips. Then, quick as a frog’s tongue while catching flies, those now saliva-drenched fingers would find the offending problem and promptly and wetly subject it into submission.

We kids hated that. Despised it and it seems that no matter how carefully we groomed ourselves, mom would find something to wrangle into place.

The spit was bad enough, but for me it was the lingering bad breath odor that would cling to wherever mom slid her spittle splattered fingers. I shiver to this day.

Anyway, about that birth order thing; I stood smack dab in the middle of that row. Initially I felt as if I blended into that lineup. After all, I wasn’t first, the most coveted position. Nor was I “the caboose” as my parents fondly called my last “oops” of a sibling. I wasn’t even the first female as was my sister, who stood proudly in the second position. Nor was I the much appreciated fourth place sibling, a brother, who had the parental sigh of relief after two catty, chatty, squabbling sisters.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that the middle child was to be pitied. After all the looks of pity were obvious more often than not, when mom would introduce us kids (after first making us line up in birth order).

So, naturally, (and falling right into line to what the experts said about middle children) I struggled mightily against my label. No one, not even a knobby-kneed, gauche female likes to feel like part of the wallpaper.

It would be an understatement to say that I mounted a campaign to set myself apart and in a more noticeable light. And did I ever.

My rebellious and adamant war cry when someone would comment on my birth order was, “I am NOT the middle child. I am the youngest of the two oldest and the oldest of the two youngest.”

There! Let them argue that!

They didn’t bother. All I could see was laughter threatening to erupt from their quivering lips as they held back their mirthful laugh. Their eyes danced with amusement.

In reality and in the interest of fessing up, I have to admit this column isn’t really about birth order. It is yet another Karen parable dressed up fancy, but still quite simple and basic beyond the crafted finery.

It is about taking whatever life throws at you and making it your own. Don’t let life define you whatever order you find yourself in life. Trust me, I know, it’s always better when you define life instead.

 

Just Posted

Slocan Valley to be ‘lit up’ with high-speed internet in 12 months

125 kilometres of fibre-optic cable to be laid from Nakusp to Playmore Junction

Vigil re-affirms belief in peace, acceptance in wake of New Zealand massacre

Nearly 100 show up for solemn event at Mir Centre for Peace

Police bust drug operation in Castlegar

Man charged, will go to court in August

Zoning mix-up nixes Shoreacres property sale

Man says the RDCK’s listings online don’t match his property’s official zoning

Castlegar coach receives Basketball BC honour

Cheryl Closkey recognized for 50 years of volunteering

B.C. researcher says device mimics parent’s touch to help babies cope with pain

Calmer device is a rectangular platform that replaces a mattress inside an incubator

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Protective human chain forms around B.C. mosque for Friday prayer

Vancouver Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Most Read