Wednesday, February 3, 2010

When Third Children Go Bad

There are many ways to screw up a child.

  • One could blog about them.
  • Tell dinner guests how your son cried in a store when he was 2, and when the clerk asked him what was wrong, he said, "I'm sad because girls don't have penises."
  • Get a great deal on a floor model of Barbie's Partytime RV at ToysRUs on Christmas Eve Day, and then when Santa gives it, the recipient realizes some of the stuff is missing and it's a little rough, thereby making her wonder how bad she had really been that year.  (That was an oversight, I swear.  She was FOUR, how could I know she had the commercials memorized?)
  • Know they love turtles and then not catch them in time when they eat the beef jerky at Grandma's house, only to find out it is, indeed, Turtle Jerky.  ("Do you mean...I...just ATE...a turtle?!?!"  And now she is a vegetarian.)
I don't care how awesome you think you are, you are going to give the kids something to discuss in therapy someday.  You may rock the organic treats, but make them wear stupid-looking boots.  Go ahead and take them to Disney, but they'll remember you sent crappy cookies for the Valentine party.  Go to every intramural basketball game, but you didn't decorate their room like the PB Teen catalog room.  These transgressions are generally between you and your offspring.  The trick is to not let others on to the possibility that you are perhaps not June Cleaver material.  As Andre Agassi once said, "Image Is Everything,"  and he said this whilst adjusting his mullet wig and doing crystal meth.  Very clever.

My older children are lovely, funny beings who want to please us.  When they do something we don't want them to do, it truly pains them.  Youngest Daughter, on the other hand, is studying the works of cult leaders so she can run her own compound someday.  (For those of you aghast at how I can say such a thing, of course I love her.  Please redirect to the Dr. Spock "How To Raise a Perfect Child" Homepage, A Day in The Wife is not for you.)  I go into her room at night to tuck her in and she is reading "The First Grade Primer Guide to Mind Control", with all of her American Girl dolls lined up, looking at her with these emotionless, blank eyes and seemingly frozen smiles.  It's already working.

We knew something was...different...when she was about 3 months old and giving us dirty looks from her car seat.  Current Husband would turn his head toward me without breaking eye contact with her and say, "Do babies usually make faces like that?" and I would say, "Should I call a priest?" 

YD expressing displeasure, about 2 years old.

I tried to do some research on Third Child Syndrome to see if anything could be done about YD to make she doesn't hurt anyone mentally or physically.  Here is an accompanying photo on a birth order article describing the bitterness between first and second born children:
I think these little girls are more disturbed 
by these dresses than their birth order.

Wikipedia, my usual go-to source (because let's be honest, I'm not concerned enough to move from this chair to research) only had an article basically outlining the bickering between prominent psychologists about the effect of birth order, all obviously first-borns. had this to say about it:
"The baby of the family basks in the sentimentality of being the last child, and are basically spoiled rotten. The youngest children tend to be most affectionate, and more sophisticated than their peers without older siblings to show them the ropes.

Having a third child also means a changed parenting style. Here you must move from one-on-one to a zone defense. You no longer have one parent per child and everyone gets less individual time and attention. You have to double-up and the logistics get more complex."
This sounds like I need weaponry.  I need logistics?  A zone defense?  She'll be spoiled rotten even though we are raising the first two Methodist and YD as Amish?  All of the other links were mom blogs saying "Don't have three children!" or "How do I reign in my third child who is spoiled rotten?"  or "How do I run a zone defense?"

Here is a picture of YD at the zoo two 
summers ago, before she got her way:
See the other two look at me for direction..."Help us".

Here is YD after she got her way:
See?  Sweetness and light.  And unmitigated power.

Last one - we took a picture this year for the Christmas card.  YD didn't know, but the premise was about spiking Santa's cookies because he gave them coal in their stockings the year before.  (He didn't - that whole Barbie RV thing got us Scared Straight.) All I told YD when setting up this shot is "someone has made you very angry."
Oy.  Please don't let it be me.

So now perhaps you get the idea.  

Last year, YD saw a girl in her school with a cast on her arm.  But it wasn't just ANY cast.  It was a bright fuschia cast that everyone signed.  It was like a neon arm that said, "I run this joint.  Worship me."  YD told us she wanted a cast for her birthday.  We told her that she had to have a broken arm to get a cast.  She asked, "How bad would that hurt?"  

YD, thankfully, did not get her arm broken, but she does still ask me to wrap ribbons around her arm so that it looks like a "cast".  I do it, and tell her how bad a broken arm hurts the entire time I am wrapping.

Just a couple of weeks ago, she was helping me make dinner, and we had the following conversation:

YD:  "Oh, Mrs. K told me that I should get glasses because I squint while I read." 
ME:  "Do you have a note?"
YD:  "No, she just told me to tell you."
ME:  "Well I need a note from a teacher about something like that."  

I thought that would be the end of it.  The next day, she brought home a piece of lined notebook paper on which the following was written:  "YD said I need to write a note to tell you she needs glasses because she is squinting when she reads.  Mrs. K"

The operative part of this note is that it said "YD said I need to write a note" not "YD needs glasses".  I recognized this, and told her that we would get an eye exam at her physical next month.  I thought that would be the end of it.

A few days ago, I was at the school and saw her teacher, and had this exchange:
ME:  "We are going to get YD's eyes examined at her next physical to see if there is something to the squinting."  
T:  "I didn't think those were reading glasses."
ME:  "What?"
T:  "She's been wearing glasses the last few days.  She said they were her new glasses."
ME:  "What do they look like?"
T:  "Purple frames, sort of tinted lenses."
ME:  "Those are her sister's sunglasses.  She does not have glasses."
T:  Snickers.  Understands I have no control over my children.  Again considers exercising her Mandatory Reporter duties.  Decides I'm not worth it.

Here are the "reading glasses" YD self-prescribed, 
acquired and reported to her teacher and classmates:
I'm sure everything is much clearer now.
Like how to bend multiple adults to her will.

But I will confess - I am just like the MSNBC article said.  I am letting her bask in the sentimentality that she is my last child (please God let that be true).  And she is incredibly affectionate, and incredibly cute.  She is a big hugger and still wants to sit on my lap and thinks I am the funniest, prettiest, most gracefully stylish person on the planet, which she knows damn well is the key to the kingdom.  She has me figured out.  I'm keeping her.


annfmcl said...

She sounds like a hoot!!--Ann McL, Mom of 3 Girls.

Anissa said...

Oh my! I have only boys. Now I know why...

Word ver: mullate (that's what the French call Agassi's former do.)

Nikki Allers said...

Oh, dear. I wonder what she'll be cooking up in 4th grade!

Julie said...

Yes she sounds just like another girl I know...

Nancy B. said...

I'm actually crying - I laughed so hard about the teacher's note. Reminds me of...ME! I was a third child but sadly not the last though I'm still basking in the sentimentality of being the youngest.

Wendy Ramer said...

Absolutely fabulous. (I'm a writer, and those are the best words I can come up with to describe this post. Sometimes emotional honesty trumps literary eloquence.)

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