Monday, October 6, 2014

On Being the Youngest and Raising a Youngest

I'm the youngest of four children (born after a notable gap) now raising a youngest of four (born after a notable gap). We were watching old videos from before my youngest was born. The older kids were going around saying what they wanted for Christmas. I was the interviewer and cameraman (saying things like, "Huh. A Playstation. What do you think your chances of getting that are?" And "Are the chances poor because it's 5 days before Christmas and this is the first time you've mentioned it?" etc...) And the youngest is watching intently because her siblings seem foreign, seeing them so young. It's a little surreal -- a world in which her family existed but not quite wholly. I get it completely. The first child has the sense that their existence created the idea of the family, the idea that there was no family before they came along. But, for the youngest, the family existed before they existed. My own existence felt like an add-on rather than an act of creation. I told the youngest this and, finally, she got to the heart of her concern. "If I'd been there back then and you'd asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I'd have said, 'A butler.'" And I said, "Wow. Imagine how much better our lives would have been all these years with a butler." This is why the youngest is so important, people. They think of things the older ones never have