Birth Order

Talked to some friends last night about the realities of having four children. They have three and wanted to know how difficult adding one more was. Jim Gaffigan says that adding a fourth child is like drowning … and then, someone hands you a child. As true as that may be, having our first child was the most difficult because of the change in lifestyle, being terrible at everything child related and having all your pre-child plans fail miserably. One of the pre-child hopes that I had was to have our oldest be a girl so she could set an example for her siblings for how humans should live. Currently, I’m glad this hope went unrealized.

Our two oldest are boys, 7 and 5, they have the privileged of helping to raise their younger sisters, 2 and 5 months. This is a great advantage for them – or my oldest at least – because when they grow up, they’ll have life experience at caring for babies. When you have four children, it gives the older children vital, important and needed roles to play. We simply can’t get along as well without them. A couple of weeks ago, I took the four children to Costco sans wife for dinner and shopping. In order for dinner to happen smoothly, the boys had to take my credit card, stand in the long, snaking, line to order and make runs to get water, napkins, etc. When we shopped, my oldest had to push his youngest sister in her stroller while I navigated the shopping cart. He had to keep his concentration; his sisters well-being was in his hands. Admittedly, if they were girls, they would have benefited from being needed, but boys, too often, are shielded from doing domestic work, and thus, never become like the Patriarch Jacob a “complete man.”

Being the oldest has also helped my boys because they get to be around their mother as she breast feeds their sister. The first breast I ever saw was in a ripped up, Playboy Magazine. I think I was five. Those breasts, in that context, started me on a road to separate women from their bodies. In contrast, the first breast, my boys will remember, will be their mother’s. It will be impossible for them to separate her body from who she is to them. Hopefully, this will help start them out to have healthy relationship to women, which makes me glad we got boys before girls.


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