Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Improg word: Order

My improg, and blogging in general, has been pre-empted lately by work, driving people here and there, illness, work, three and a half days of sunshine (three and a half days!), work, gardening, volunteering, work, general disorganization, the dreaded grocery shopping, and work.

There are a few different approaches I could take to today’s word. If you’re one of the three people who read this blog regularly, you know I’m trying to get my life in order, but since I’ve been failing miserably at that lately (see above), I’ll pretend that this approach didn’t occur to me and move right on.

I used to be a waitress, so I took a lot of orders, screwed some up, and even dropped a few. I’m a mom, so I give a lot of orders, too. And at times I’d love to have a wooden gavel so I could bang on the kitchen table and shout “Order! Order in the house!” and threaten any disorderly family members or cats with a stint in the clinker. Finally, there's the burning question of why, being such an overly educated person and trained as a librarian to boot, I have to sing the ABCs every time I put things in alphabetical order.

But instead I did a little research on something I’ve wondered about for years. You know how they say that your birth order can have a big impact on your personality? Well, I’m not sure just how this fits my crazy upbringing.

Originally, I was the younger of two, with a brother four and half years older than me. Then my dad remarried, so from the age of 10, I was the second youngest of six (although I didn’t live with these siblings). When I was 11, my brother moved to our dad’s and then I was like an only child at my mom’s (my main home). But much of the time I had to be more of an adult than a child in that relationship.

Three years later, my mom and I moved. Every summer I travelled 1000 miles to spend two months at my dad’s, where my younger stepsister was the only child still at home. While I’m a year older than she is, we were so much younger than the others that we were always treated like a matched pair. We hated this (and, often, each other) when we were younger, but in our case the adage about absence making the heart grow fonder was true. Although I sometimes obnoxiously lorded it over her that I was the older one, really it was like having a sister who was my own age but looked nothing like me.

So I’ve been the youngest, a middle child, the oldest, and an only. According to the stereotypes, I should have every personality characteristic under the sun. I should be extraverted, introverted, responsible, lazy, high achieving, low achieving, a conformist, a rebel, dependent, independent, able to get along with everyone, and unable to relate to others. No wonder I’m so confused.

I think some experts would count my family of origin as the most important one. According to an article in Time, my brother should be the favorite child. He should also be smarter than me and more likely to pursue higher education, thanks at least in part to the fact that he had a younger sibling to mentor. Does (unsuccessfully) trying to teach someone to burp the alphabet count as mentoring?

I, as the younger one, should rebel against his success and be more of a “loose cannon,” “less educated,” and “likelier to live [an] exhilarating life.” Obviously, my family never read this article, because this is not how we turned out. When I rebelled, it certainly wasn’t against my brother (in fact, he often contributed to my delinquency). He went straight to the real world; I spent a ridiculous number of years in university. And in my life, crossing five things of my to-do list in one day is about as exhilarating as it gets.

It’s a toss up as to which of us is smarter, but I can tell you this: I am definitely the favorite. So there.


Hayley Townley, Breast Cancer Survivor Extraordinaire! said...

I am, was, and always will be the oldest. And meanest.

Can I be second favorite?

Margerie said...

I have always been the oldest, I married an oldest and now we complain a lot about our oldest.................hhmmm..... and I am boring. Any ideas on how I can rebel??!!LOL- great post Susan. I think you need more fun than crossing stuff off your list. If that is how you play- put down some fun stuff like:* fly to California for a Buckwheat and icecream adventure (Hayley's buying and Ellen still asks about you)* retail therapy* coffee in a nice coffee shop with a good book, just because* make a new friend every month* get some costumes and dress up and go somewhere (Hayley made me do this and it was fun and I didn't think about any of my crap the entire time)* fun gardening!!!!* figure out how to less work, or work more efficiently because work sucks!And yes, Hayley is the meanest ;)