My mother has always told me I should be grateful that I’m not the middle child — a statement she’s been forced to trot out every time I’ve complained about being the youngest, which has been fairly often. The fact that there was no middle child in our family hasn’t seemed all that relevant.
Being the baby gets a good rap; you’re allegedly showered in affection, can do no wrong and are spoiled beyond belief. But my family apparently ignored the manual on this one.
You need only look at my brother’s baby book and compare it to mine for evidence. His, a marvel of photos, locks of hair, newspaper clippings and shamelessly admiring entries, is truly breathtaking. It’s a virtual effigy of worship for what appears to be the most adored child in creation.
Mine, created a mere two-and-a-half years later, is a cold pink book with one entry: Diana cries a great deal. Yes, I was named Diana (a story for another entry — maybe I can work into my June 23rd “memories” one) and yes, I apparently never stopped crying. This could have something to do with the fact that my big brother, apparently having some trouble adjusting to not being the only kid around (after the way he’d been treated, can you blame him?) threw a block at me when Mom brought me home from the hospital. “You’re tired by the time you have your second one,” Mom has said every time I’ve poured over his baby book with utter fascination.
My brother was a first child through and through. Thoroughly convinced of his superior intelligence, he routinely recited the following sentence that I only later learned was non-sensical: “The radical viscosity of the metaplasmic syntax infractuated by the root of all the cosmos in synergy” (he wasn’t popular). He got godparents (“We’re Jewish,” Mom said whenever I’ve asked why I didn’t have any, though they were also Jewish when my brother was born. “Jews don’t do that.”) He got spectacular 18th and 21st birthday presents (by which I mean spectacular amounts of cash), that I was promised I would also receive when I reached that age, though “our financial situation” had changed by the time I got there).
So, you see, I have reasons for resenting my status as the baby. Still, I know I’m lucky not to have Jan Brady syndrome which, according to Mom means having to declare butterscotch as your favorite kind of pudding because the first child will get chocolate and the baby vanilla.
I say Jan Brady had it made. Though I never got a look at her baby book.