Birth Order and Beef Jerky

To my sweet #1,

Ah….I had such IDEAS when you were small…I knew ALL THE THINGS. You were enriched within an inch of your life. There were rules and they were consistent. The consequences were logical, and not once did I call you by another name. Your food was homemade and organic…and, when your little bottom was sensitive…I switched to cloth. Your bedtime routine (warm bath, baby massage, 2 books, 2 songs) was a masterfully orchestrated time of bonding. And it happened On. Time. Every. Single. Night. The constant focus on whether or not you’d eaten enough dark, leafy greens though…that was a little much. And those “play dresses” with the matching leggings that I made you wear in 3rd grade with your little Mary-Janes? For that, I am truly sorry. (Adorable…but I may have held onto that look a little long…) Still, both parents attended everything from your preschool Halloween party to your afternoon snack. We clapped and we cheered. We hovered and we protected. We knew the answers to questions people hadn’t even thought to ask yet. We did research and read books and made informed decisions. We were Professional Parents.

To my sunny #2,

Middle children clamor that they get short shrift…and maybe so…but from where I’m standing, it appears that you landed right in the sweet spot. When you came along, we were already a little worn out from the years of monitoring dark leafy green consumption, and so sometimes we “don’t see” when you snag a cookie right before dinner. We know who your teachers are…mostly…but definitely cannot rattle off your most recent test scores. We know the names of most of the kids on your team…but it doesn’t really matter anyway, since the years have mellowed us and we’re down to the occasional clap. Sometimes we cheer for you, but we know you don’t really like it when you can hear us from the field…and that’s cool with us because we’re mostly sipping our coffee and chatting with the people around us. We don’t freak out when you exhibit the occasional “negative behavior” because we’ve learned that phases pass. (Except for the cramming of wrappers in between the couch cushions. That crap needs to end, sweetheart.)

To my scrappy #3,

I just watched you leave for school. You’re wearing shorts that used to be white. I keep meaning to get rid of them. They’re grey now with pulls all over them and a stain on the right leg. You’re carrying a lunch of applesauce, wheat thins and beef jerky. I like to pretend its a roast beef sandwich and cut up fruit, but it’s not. You swore off sandwiches and deli meat a while back and, while I’m sure a quick Pinterest search would yield hundreds of tasty, nutritious options, the appeal of the wheat thin/ beef jerky feast is that you can pack it yourself. You wear what you want…I no longer lay out clothes and I refuse to engage in battles about shorts. You want icicles hanging from your knees? Carry on. You are no stranger to going to your games with other families…and you roll with it. Remember a few weeks back when we missed your first grand slam? I told you I was sad to have missed it and you said, “That’s ok, Mom. I know you would’ve been there if you could. I’ll just hit another one for you!”.  So I think you’re doing ok, in spite of the fact that the inside of your lunchbox looks like you’re heading to an episode of Survivor.

The thing is…years of Leafy Green Moderation, heading up the Wrapper Removal Brigade and perfecting our Sideline Sipping Skills have left us re-evaluating. We’re chucking the unimportant things and a few of the things that are important but just don’t fit right now…and we’re doing it with zeal. We are CERTAIN that we don’t know what we’re doing these days, because we’re making it up every single day. We’ve lowered the bar…and it’s so much better this way!

Later, when you kids sit around at Thanksgiving, you’ll talk about how each of them got the raw end of the deal one way or another…and I’ll nod. Because, yup…you did. You also got the best of the bargain in one way or another…just ask your siblings! I hope…and I’m pretty sure…that you’re all going to be ok. Leafy greens, beef jerky and all…




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