My niece Marlee is the epitome of perfect (she is the first grandchild in our family - please let me have my aunt bragging rights); she listens well, wakes up laughing, knows the sound a cow makes, gives perfect kisses, knows the meaning of “no” and perhaps most impressive, she has my father wrapped around her tiny, chubby finger.
I told Dad that if I would have known he would have mellowed out this much from having one grandchild, I would have had a baby when I was 16! My conservative, fairly abrasive Dad was not impressed, at all.
The differences in way the first grandchild is treated and how the third child was, can be considered....notable.
Marlee dropped her sippy cup of milk on the kitchen floor (that mom had just mopped for the 3rd time in one weekend), and not only was the milk transferred into a new, sterile cup, she was praised for picking it up. I remember picking pebbles and dirt out of my gums because my pacifier had been dropped in the corn field (4 times) with out notice.
Sunday, Marlee spent the day dragging around a doll that I’ve considered a sacred part of the family for years. It was Mom’s Tiny Tears doll she had as a little girl.
If we even looked at that doll wrong Mom told us, “Don’t touch! Don’t break! Don’t even fight with in 5 yards of that doll!” Growing up, I would have rather stood in front of the entire school in my pajamas and retainer than have mom catch me close to Tiny Tears in her antique high chair. Now the poor 50 year old Tiny Tears is all dried up, being drug around by her hair and given sloppy wet kisses. Mom doesn't even seem to take notice.
Marlee has a baby book, one that tells the exact details of her beautiful little body the day she was born...and the day she first smiled...the day she slept for more than 2 hours...and the day she ate her first carrot...and the day her first tooth came in, her first hair was cut and her first step was taken. I went kindergarten through 6th grade under the wrong name. At sixth grade graduation I marched my diploma right up to Mom and asked her what was wrong with it; she noticed nothing. My 6th Grade Graduation Diploma (my biggest life accomplishment, to that point) read, “Lindsay Elaine Bowman”. My name is Lindsay Jean Bowman; Elaine is my sister’s middle name...............Minor details.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I uploaded my parent's pictures onto my computer to free up their memory card. A total 247 pictures were uploaded; they consisted of: four pictures taken at the farm, ten pictures from our vacation to Arizona, 2 audio files of Dad cussing the camera because he thought it was on photo mode, eight taken at our annual bred heifer sale, ten taken at my Grandma’s 80th birthday party and 213 pictures of Marlee. In elementary school, I had to create a “kiddie collage” that showcased pictures of me growing to that point. We ended up running just a little short on photos. Three of the ten photos I used had “1980” or “1981” written on the back; I was born in 1984. Thank goodness my sister and I look alike; 1992 was way before the miracles of Photoshop.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that little lady more than I ever thought I could love someone who throws up on my dry-clean-only tops. I’m just saying, given the choice to be the first grandchild or the third child of 3, it would take consideration. I don’t know, I've kind of enjoyed taking my own path, breaking the family symmetry and being the kid who sat in the middle hump seat with her knees in her chest for 12 years. It builds character.