Even though most people think that being the eldest in the family is stressful, being the middle kid is tough and being the youngest is pleasurable, in actual fact, to be the youngest kid in a family is not all fun and games.
Last month, we came back from a long holiday overseas. Our eldest daughter Eden (19 years old) decided to stay overseas for 6 more weeks while we rushed to get home because our middle son Tsoof, almost 13 years old, had to be back for his flight to a music competition in Melbourne.
Two weeks before we finished our vacation, Eden talked to our youngest daughter Noff, 7 years old, and told her she would not be flying back with us, and the crying started.
A week before we returned, Tsoof started talking excitedly about his trip and told the little one that 3 days after we got back home, he was going to be away for 4 days, and the crying increased.
She complained that they always left her on her own and that they got to do fun things, like flying by themselves and that they were allowed to skip school sometimes. It did not help me at all to point out to her that Eden had finished school 3 years before. She was miserable, lonely, neglected and suffering from attention deficit.
As a Be Happy in LIFE coach, I tried to point out to her the good things that would come out of the situation (try this, it works like magic). The best thing I could come up with (and that was most definitely true) was that she would get the chance to have her own private time with Mom and Dad.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that out of my three kids, the youngest one gets less of me than the others do.
When my first daughter was born, she had the two of us (and our whole family) giving her our undivided attention. She was an only child for over 6 years, with plenty of Mommy and Daddy time. I remember at the time people asking me if I was looking forward to the next one, and I remember answering in my head, “I love the time we spend together with Eden and I am not sure I am ready to share it with another baby yet “.
When Tsoof was born, we became a family (we always say that Eden made us parents and Tsoof made us a family). To ensure that both kids got the attention they needed, we split up. Many times, I would do something with one of the kids while Gal gave the other one his full attention. For almost 6 years, each of them got half of our attention.
When our youngest one was born, we were no longer just a family. We became a “big family”, because splitting between us did not work anymore. For most of the youngest one’s life, she had to share Mommy or Daddy’s time with one or the other of her siblings, which is not nearly the same as having Mom or Dad to herself.
Only on the rare occasions when both the older kids stayed the night with friends or happened to be camping would she have us to herself. Those times, we would eat breakfast or dinner together, just the three of us. We would stay in bed on weekends and giggle without the other 2 “giants” taking over all the space on our bed. The evenings would be quiet and in the mornings we would just have more time to do everything we wanted to do together with her, and it felt so good every time that it happened. Unfortunately, this has probably only happened 6 times in her life so far.
When I told Noff we would be spending quality time together, I too was happy to have the opportunity. I think I needed it as well. I was so short on time and attention having to still raise the other two kids when she entered our life that she hardly ever got our full attention. It was refreshing to finally have all the time in the world to give her.
Noff liked the idea and the crying stopped and turned into excitement. For the duration of the flight back home, she tried to convince Tsoof that he was actually missing out. Obviously, he was not fazed because he had already had enough private time with us over the years, but it was great for her.
Finally, everyone was happy.