It is hard to believe that my oldest child will be six years old in just 73 days. Hard to believe so much time has passed so quickly. On the other hand, her level of maturity and her size often lead people to believe that she is a couple of years older than she is. In fact, I’m almost sure that the cashier at the buffet where we ate a few weekends ago thought we might be lying about her age in order to get the cheaper kids price since it goes up at age six. She didn’t say anything when we told her our daughter’s age, but she did hesitate before continuing to ring us up.
Although I definitely believe that each child is individual and you should never pigeonhole them, I am also of the opinion that the order of your birth does influence the way in which you view and respond to the world. For years my mom and I have laughingly pointed out first born children in public. They are always the “mother hens” of their younger siblings – attempting to make sure that all of the other children are behaving whether their own mother is paying any attention or not. Now my little firstborn does the same thing with her younger brother. No matter how many times my husband and myself tell her that we are the parents and we will take care of any situation which may arise, she often feels that she must correct and protect her brother.
She looks older than she is and she often feels compelled to act older than she is. And the poor girl is a perfectionist being raised by me, her perfectionistic only child mother. I have to struggle on a regular basis to not push her beyond her capabilities and age limitations. My mother overheard a conversation between the two of us the other day in which I asked her, “How old are you?” In that moment, I was frustrated and resorted to asking a berating question rather than dealing properly with the situation at hand. My mom told me later that as she overheard the question she was thinking to herself, She is five – and she is exhibiting the behavior of a five year old.
Thank goodness I have the benefit of living so close to my mom and the benefit of being able to draw on her years of experience as a perfectionistic mom raising a perfectionistic daughter. She is able to point out to me when I am making some of the mistakes of the past. Hopefully I will be able to correct some of them! I have no doubt that some of the conflicts my mother and I have had over the years owe to the fact that she is a first born and I am an only child. My poor first born daughter never stood a chance of not being a perfectionist – being the first born of an only child of a first born of a first born!