Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Things One Thinks About at 4:35 AM

Are, it turns out, the things one thought about at bedtime five hours earlier. In my case last night, I was thinking about birth orders.

There's very little I really believe in, but I am a near fanatic on the subject of birth orders. Personally, I am a youngest (of two), and that wouldn't mean all that much to me except that out of about a dozen or so close friends, ten are first borns or onlies. A handful have asterisks, older or younger half siblings that might have affected family dynamics in ways I'm not privy too.

But I figured a while ago that it couldn't be coincidence so many first borns and onlies liked me, or that I selected them as friends at many different points in my life.

I respected birth order in the moon books. Miranda in Life As We Knew It and Alex in The Dead And The Gone are both middle children. I very much wanted Miranda to have a big brother she could turn to (as I turn to my big brother), and I favored the idea that she wasn't the youngest (although as the only girl, she had a different relationship than she would have as the middle child in a family of three boys). For Alex, it was really important that he wasn't the oldest. He found himself thrust into the position of being the one responsible for his two younger sisters, when that had never been his place in the family (which was to be the best and brightest, the one his mother pinned all her ambitions on).

Somewhere around 4:47 AM, I decided it would be interesting to find out from all of you what your birth order is. Polls are so cheerfully anonymous, and I don't expect to find any trends whatsoever, but I'm curious anyway. If you have any birth order comments you want to make, please do. But with or without comments, I'd love it if you place your birth order in the poll, so I can see if I'm hanging out with oldests and onlies here as well as in "real life!"

29 comments:

Christine said...

I said middle but officially, I am #5 out of 6 pregnancies. There is Jay, Amy, Lucas, Joshua, Christine (me), Ellen. Joshua was miscarried as a result of the abuse she suffered by the hands of my biological father Ricky and his mother. (I despise him for all the pain he caused our family.) If Joshua had been full term I would not have been concieved, his delivery date far exceeded my conception date. Jay moved in with his grandparents because of Ricky when I was 7, and Amy eloped when I was 9 so I was raised as the middle.

Susan said...

I'm both a youngest and an only--my two older brothers had moved out of the house by the time I was in 7th grade. (But I clicked "youngest" since that was what I was first.)

I have the same theory as you--I think youngest/oldest marries, and middle finds middle. I've seen this pattern too much for me to think it's coincidence!

-Another Susan

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Christine and thank you for your comment-

I didn't think to include "replacement child" on the poll, but it's definitely a family position all its own. I wrote a book once, Family Of Strangers, about a replacement child. I loved the book, but it was a sales failure.

My obsessions are not necessarily the world's!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Another (and far superior) Susan-

Your comment slipped in while I was answering Christine (and Christine's slipped in while I was talking to Marci about family position).

My mother was the oldest of 5, and my father was the middle of 9, but there were a lot of other family dynamics going on, so I see different patterns there.

I'll have to do a survey of my friends and their spouses to see if youngest marries oldest and if middle finds middle.

Thank you for giving me something new to obsess over at 4:35 AM!

Wanda Vaughn said...

I am the middle child between two sisters. They had blonde hair and green eyes. I had dark brown hair and brown eyes.

My parents (both youngest) did things in threes. They married, three years later they had Terica- three years later they had me- three years later they had Donna. (three years later they sighed a sigh of relief!)

And as my coloring was different, so was my personality. Sisters are down to earth and very practical. I'm the dreamer of the bunch, drawn to the life of the arts.

And I coined a phrase. (I think) I am the Middlest child.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Wanda Vaughn-

I'm so glad I opened up this topic. I think family dynamics are the most interesting thing in the world (that's why I write YAs).

And you may be the Middlest Child (a term definitely new to me), but for most of my career, I've been a Midlist Author!

Andrea said...

I am the youngest with only one older sister. My husband is the oldest by 9 minutes with an identical twin brother, but they tend to fall into the oldest/youngest dynamic anyway which is interesting. I have more "oldest" traits while my sister displays more "youngest" tendencies.

Nora Durbin said...

I am an only, married to an only. We are both only grandkids on our moms' sides, and one of a ton of grandkids on our fathers' sides. It is pretty crazy have everything so similiar.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello to Andrea and to Nora Durbin-

I've heard that twins tend to older/younger roles based on who is born first. Another fascinating dynamic.

And I have a cousin who is an only child, married to an only child, and they have one child. I realized at one point their son had no sisters, no brothers, no aunts, no uncles, and no cousins.

He's made up for it by marrying and having two sons of his own!

Wanda Vaughn said...

I had to come up with some term, y'know.

"This is my oldest child."
"This is my youngest child."
"This is the other one."

See what I mean?!

Christine said...

I answered earlier for myself as middle. Adding to that to me as the middle raised I am the easy going mama's girl, quiet, and withdrawn versus my youngest sibling who is spoiled and vindictive because I'm the baby line she was fed.
My husband is the oldest of three boys and he like me was the most helpful to parents with cleaning. His middle is troublesome (strange to me I thought my disposition and attitude was common to middle children).
Now a note to Susan: You are a talented author. The first book I read by you was "Life as we knew it", "Twice Taken", then "Dead and the Gone", and I am going to find all your captivating stories. (All have made me cry. With "Twice Taken" I could understand all of her struggling emotions of who she should love and resent.)Of all the world catastrophe stories I have read or movies I have watched (The Stand, zombies, and apocalypse, etc.), yours scared me the most. I love to imagine how long I would survive in the events presented with the exception of the rapture, (heaven bound immediately I hope I am pure enough in faith). Of all these no matter what the catastrophe yours is, as you said delaying the inevitable, and only the unlucky are still alive. That makes it terrifying, but more realistic because you can not triumph in every situation. Thank you for having the courage to publish works that give you ideas and help shape who you are. I say this because the fear of your event no matter how unlikely makes me further appreciate and cherish my family and time I have.

Madison Field said...

I am happily the oldest. I have three, soon to be four, younger sisters. Does being the oldest get on my nerves? YES. But there are so many perks to being the oldest... :)

Anonymous said...

I am the oldest by about five years. My younger brother asks me for advice sometimes (then does what he wants), but I think he does that not because of the wisdom I possess, but because he's lazy.

My two oldest kids are only fifteen months apart and sometimes my son (the younger) seems like he's more mature than his older sister, but when push comes to shove, he does go to her for advice. (And thank the lord she passed her road test yesterday, two weeks before he finished driver's ed or there would have been a battle royale and waterworks unparalleled.)

Glen (anon)

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello again to Wanda Vaughn and Christine and hello for the first time to Madison Field and Glen (and congratulate your daughter for me, Glen, for passing her road test)-

I think it's really interesting that for the moment at least, firstborns is in the lead on the poll. Maybe it's just firstborns are most likely to answer poll questions, or maybe the results will change in time.

I'll certainly be watching to see!

YOURYOUNGESTBIGGESTFAN!!! said...

i have a time i am 6 hours older than her ( my poor mom! ) ist strange she is way taller than me!

exBFF said...

My father was married and had five children. Married my mother and had me. Although I'm technically the youngest of six, the other family never wanted to know me (until I was grown), so I'm considered an only child.

mericate said...

I'm the second of four. The third child was the only boy in the family.

Anonymous said...

It's complicated for me too. My older sister died when I was two and she was three. When I was four, my younger sister was born. I've always known about my older sister and had interacted with her as a toddler, but for simplicity I guess, we always referred to me as the oldest and my younger sister as the youngest to newcomers in our life.
Susan's theory is interesting, and I had noticed a similar pattern in marriages. My husband was the middle child as well. He was only a year younger than his older sister (who passed away in her 20s) and he has a younger brother who is quite younger - eight years. He refers to himself as the oldest and his brother as the youngest. I guess we sort of fit both the middle-middle pattern in one way, and oldest-youngest in another way because of the large gap in another way. And yet, we think of ourselves as oldest-oldest. :)
On another note, we have three kids.
I've just found this blog and have enjoyed reading back through the posts. I just finished LAWKI - we're reading through the series with some neighbors and enjoying it - and I was pleased to see the word verification game here too. Mine is "gyraphy." I think I'll write something with a spin today. :)
JulieB

Christine said...

Answering again: Now I am thinking of family lines. And this one is twisted.
Ryan, Ricky Jr, Rebecca, Noah
Noah is the last in this line for my husbands children unless I get pregnant again.
But Noah is the first and only child in the line of my children.
So he gets to be both the youngest and an only child.

Wanda Vaughn said...

I got to thinking about the wonderful man I married. Technically, he's the baby (3rd) but he had a mentally challenged brother who was older by a year and a half. At a certain point, Scott became 'older' than his brother, making him like a middle child. (like me)

Linda Jacobs said...

I had my students fill out a character chart for Miranda for the first chapter of LAWKI and just this morning one of my girls said Miranda has a typical middle child personality. Kind of coincidental that you'd have this on your blog when I checked today!

YOUR YOUNGEST BIGGEST FAN! said...

oh susan i ment twin!( if you dont want me to call you susan just say!)

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi to Your Youngest Biggest Fan (and yes, of course you can call me Susan) and exBFF and mericate and JulieB and Chistine and Wanda Vaughn and Linda Jacobs-

I love hearing all the family stories. I'm a total sucker for family stories, and it's even more fun here where I've had contact with you in the past (since for the most part, I don't actually know your names, I don't think I can claim to know you).

One family dynamic I completely made up was the Morales family boy/girl setup. I have never heard of a family of boy/boy/girl/girl. The odds are they exist, but I've yet to run into one. Lots of 3 boys and lots of 4 girls, and certainly mixes of boys and girls, but never two boys followed by two girls. I figured Alex's mother probably had another pregnancy somewhere sometime, but there was no point working that into the book.

And I continue to think it's weird how many more people are checking off "oldest" on the blog than "middle" or "youngest." It makes me wonder if my blog personality is so youngest strong that it attracts firstborns also (my blog personality is actually quite similar to my real life personality except I curse a lot in my real life. And I never complain or whine in real life. Never ever. They'd call me The Stoic Of Sycamore Street, if I lived on Sycamore Street).

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan!! I'm the oldest of 5 I have 3 brothers and a sister. I am older by 3 yrs and love to be a good influence on them.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Anonymous-

It's a good thing I'm a youngest. I've never been a good influence on anyone!

Morgaine said...

I am the oldest of my full biological siblings (of which, I have one younger sister). I fall in the middle towards the end if you take into account my step-siblings, of which I have eight (three on one side, five on the other), with two younger step-siblings (all girls) and six older step-siblings (four boys and two girls). In one family I am smack dab in the middle, and in the other I share that "honor" with my older step-brother who happens to have the same birthday as me, but is two years older.

Way complicated family structure here!

My husband is the youngest, and my younger sister married an oldest. My step-sister, who is my age and was the youngest before my sister and I came along, also married an oldest child.

My husband and I plan on only have one child, so we shall see how that turns out!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Just think Morgaine of how many aunts and uncles your only child will have. That could be one happy indulged baby!

Friendly Neighbourhood Bookseller said...

There are four children in my family. I'm the third, so in the middle. When my younger sister was six, my mother started childminding three younger boys in our home. Two of them spent so much time with us they became brothers, putting my younger sister in the middle...

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Good Monday morning Friendly Neighbourhood Bookseller-

It's always interesting how families expand.

It's not quite so interesting how my waistline expands!