Monday, February 21, 2011

Tales from the Church Nursery: Birth Order Stereotypes

I used to be terrified of my church's nursery, but now i love it!  It's such a fascinating place.  I think it's due to the fact that I'm now in there regularly, so i'm able to get a feel for the kids' personalities.  There are some great things that happen there on Sunday mornings.  It would be hilarious to make a reality show about the church nursery.  You could even have voice-overs like the E-trade commercials.

There is one little girl in the nursery that took me several months to figure out.  We'll call her Kaylee.  I'm not entirely sure now old she is?  Somewhere around 3.  She's very physical, which used to make me mad because it wasn't safe for the BabyGirl to be in the room when Kaylee was there.  Kaylee is very unpredictable and all over the place.  She runs around, then throws herself down on the floor, then jumps up, then grabs the large rubbermade storage bins for the toys, then throws them across the room.  There is a lot of falling and thrashing and throwing and screaming.  One week she made a "train" by lining up the chairs.  Many of the other kids were unaware\unimpressed by her efforts, and would inadvertently move a chair out of line.  Oh my gosh did she have a hissy fit about this.  "WAAAHHHHH!!!  I'M MAKING A TRAIN AND HE RUINED IT!!!!"  My reaction was, "Sorry, sister, but this is a small room with lots of kids, and we can't all submit to your whims."  And then it hit me, The Big Epiphany:

Oh right, you are the middle child.

My sister Kay is also the middle child, and is very vocal about how horrible it is.  She talks about it so frequently that we all kind of blow her off.  But mostly we just don't have a framework for understanding what she's talking about.  Honestly I never understood the plight of the middle child until that moment with Kaylee and the train.  Suddenly it all made sense: the acting out, the drama queen, the falling all over the place.  All for the cause of "Look at me, look at me!  Pay me some attention!"  Also the need to be in control and the need to exert her will.

Now that i get where she's coming from, i can show her more grace.  For example: there is one small table in the nursery, and it has to serve many purposes.  At first it is the coloring table.  Then they clear it off to make it the snack table.  I had to feed the BabyGirl her spoonies in the nursery, which necessitated me using a small section of table.  It was strewn with crayons and constructions paper and other items.  Of course the BabyGirl was grabbing at whatever she could reach while i was setting up my supplies.  The BabyGirl grabbed at some item in particular, and Kaylee said in a voice that meant business, "That's mine."  I took the hint.  We musn't offend the middle child.  We will not grab that item.

Kaylee has a younger brother in the nursery as well.  The younger brother is currently the youngest child, but only for a few more weeks.  His mother is due any minute with #4, at which point Younger Brother has the misfortune of becoming another middle child.  Younger Brother is very clingy.  He cries from the moment he is dropped off in the nursery until the moment his parents return.  Recently he has made great progress.  He only cries for the first 10 minutes, and then he is willing to be distracted from his sorrow.  With one exception: any opening of the nursery door.  It sets him howling.  We discovered that if someone must go in or out, we have to face him away from the door and occupy his attention so he doesn't notice.

There is another little boy in the nursery who is the youngest of a great many kids.  He is significantly jealous of his mother's affections.  His mother loves children more than anything, and loves to volunteer in the nursery.  It breaks the little boy's heart to see her with other kids.  He tries every trick in the book.  Regression to infant behavior, sweet hugs\kisses, and acting out.  You can see it in his face, "I already have to compete with all those siblings when we are at home, and now i have to compete with these kids too?!?! It's just too much."

It was so interesting to me that some of these classic birth order behaviors are clear from a young age.  I'm the oldest, and The Professor is the youngest, so i'm glad that between the two of us we have multiple perspectives covered.  I remember thinking when i was little, if my sister Kay got her way, "Daddy just likes her more because he is the middle child too."

I want to hear from you guys - what birth order are you?  Do you have any typical characteristics of your type?  Let's hear your stories!  (This means you, Eugenia!) (and you too, Tim!)  Just click on "x comments" below.  If you don't have any of the profile options listed, you can chose Anonymous. 

This topic is very interesting to me, so i want to hear what you have to say.  Thanks for sharing!

1 comment:

  1. I'm a middle, but I'm the oldest girl and only 1 year younger than my brother. So, maybe I'm more like an older twin? Looking back, I spent most of my time playing with and bossing my little sister around. However, if you were to ask anyone who grew up with me, they'd say I was absolutely an attention hog. I hammed it up from birth, crazy about getting my picture taken and making people look at stuff I made/did. I think I was lucky though that I never felt like I was competing for my parents attention. Haha, I demanded it!