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Where I am is who I am

Workaholic? Winner? Worrier?
I am the first child. At least one of the words above might well describe me. The child much looked forward to. But also the kid you make the most mistakes with. Frantic parents fuss me silly. Tiptoeing around the bed I sleep in, whispering so I won’t wake. Nursing my mild fever like I’m about to bid Bye bye to life. And then you read, God how much you read. Books upon books offering what they think are theories, though I call them traps. Theory traps telling half truths about first kids becoming achievers, leaders, loyalists, loners. As if birth order unfolds as per standard cookie cutter formula computed to predictable precision. You often leave me anxious. Wishing I was the younger, lucky to miss being the repository of hopes and expectations an elder kid is usually burdened with. Still, I enjoy reigning as king of the castle — till it’s time to be dethroned.

Competitive? Creative? Claustrophobic?
I am the middle child. Next in line and sandwiched between older-younger, hardest to pin down in the pecking order. I do hurt making the transition to middle childhood after staying second born for a while. That demanding baby just after is quite the usurper. Pure reaction, I shape into the opposite of the kids flanking me. If the one ahead is conventional, then I’m wild child. Dancing to the beat of a different drummer, I don the mantle of negotiator, trying to keep the peace by balancing push and pull. It’s a rocky and cramped spot. I need to jostle for the same attention as the others. Not because you love me any less, I know. Guess you simply can’t help doting compulsively on that over-photographed first child as novice parents. And the youngest is mostly meant for pampering. I’d remain invisible without working tricks to get noticed, forge my own way ahead.

Spoilt? Social? Spontaneous?
I am the youngest child. This puts me in third, fourth, even fifth place... Last born, I tend to be either overprotected or plain ignored. I run a mile from those who readily label me the brat of the pack, who gets away with murder. Point is, I do grow up realising the rest of the world has little time to play favourites, owes me no special treatment. Trailing in a home full of people, I find it easier to share. I learn to be happy, humorous and high on social skills. Freer to drift, to choose what I want to be. Mine is the privilege of escaping the awful pressure of adult ambitions. You’ve likely realised these through the kids before me.

Lionised? Lord of the manor? Lonely?
I am the only child. Moody, broody, introspective, oversensitive, I’m a stickler for getting things obsessively right. Being alone is part of life and there’s no better preparation for this than an early start at flying solo. I value independence, treasure solitude. All eyes on me, I sometimes feel I’m in a fishbowl. So I retreat, emerging when I crave company. No listening bro or sis to bare my soul to, it is friends who form my family. I want them, worship them. They in turn seek me out, the court advisor. Because, prickly as I may be, I can be mature beyond my years too. Blood isn’t always thicker than water.

Meher Marfatia is the author of 10 books for children and two for parents. She has mothered her own kids well past the terrible twos and almost past the troubled teens. Reach her at: mehermarfatia@gmail.com

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