If you haven't heard about who Erma Bombeck is, she was an incredible writer for a humorist column in a big-city newspaper. She published more than 4000 syndicated columns from 1965 until her death in 1996. I love her insights on more subjects than I can mention, but this is one of my favorites. If you have more than one child, you will relate to this:
"Third Child - November 5, 1981
"Someone, who has wisely remained anonymous, once said that children are like waffles. The first one should be used to season the grill and then tossed out.
"Studies made on first children say they're not all that bad. They are usually shy, serious and sensitive, are academically superior and are more likely to be an Einstein.
"Second children, on the other hand, are relaxed, independent, cheerful, lean toward creativity and are more likely to be a Picasso.
"No on has had the courage to find - let alone study - child No. 3 and the ones who follow, whom I call et ceteras.
"Is there life after the first two children? What are the er ceteras like?
"I have discovered the third child has a few attributes of his own. He has itchy feet and joins other families for three or four months, often without being noticed. He is not intimidated by anyone, has a great sense of humor and is apt to be a game show host.
"Part of their uniqueness is that third children have no history. There are no footprints of them in the baby book, no record of their baptism, no snapshots of their birthdays and no report cards to show they ever were.
"Their childhood diseases are uneventful, their first words fall on deaf ears, and toilet training is a lonely affair with no one to applaud their efforts.
"The third child learns early that he is odd man out and has broken the family symmetry.
"Kitchen chairs come four to a set, breakfast rolls four to a package and milk four cups to a quart. Rides at Disneyland accommodate two to a seat, the family car carries four comfortably, and beds come in twos, not threes.
"The third child is the one who gets called the other two's names before the mother finally remembers his. He goes through a lifetime of comparisons: 'You're not going to be as tall as your brother...as smart as your sister...as athletic as your father.'
"I personally feel there's a lot to be said for the et cetera children, who get a fast family shuffle and who thrive on neglect and somehow appear one day all grown up.
"They not only know who they are and what they are, but they've dealt very early with the two things that most children fear the most: competition and loneliness." (This passage can be found in the book "Forever, Erma" pg.52-53)
I have three children and can agree with most every thing that was stated. I have even told my oldest that she was my "pancake child" - thing is it took 18 years before I "threw" her out! (Just kidding, I love her to pieces!!!)
As she has watched me interact with her siblings, who are 12 and 14 years YOUNGER than her, she often cries about how "unfair" I have been to her! There will be times when she is getting after her siblings for something and I walk into the room to see what is happening. After a brief explanation from her, oftentimes I will say, "It's OK. They can do 'such-n-such'. They're just being kids." Then she retorts with a "But you never let ME do that!" Then I ever so gently respond with "But you were my pancake child, remember?"
I also have 5 siblings of my own. I am the "middle" child or the "third" child that Erma writes about. We have our differences, good times and bad, but somehow we all made it to adulthood without too many injuries. I really do agree with Erma on one point though, the et cetera children. I don't know how they did it, but somehow the children that came after me grew up to be pretty OK. I just don't remember how or when they did!