28 Signs You’re Dealing with the Youngest Child

by Lian on November 5, 2013

Ah, to be the oldest child. All the attention, the new clothes, the pressure to succeed in everything all the time. Social scientists have told us lately that first-borns are actually smarter than siblings born further down the line because Mom and Dad simply spent more time with them and , frankly, cared more about their success than yours. Well, as #8 of 8 siblings, I quote Edna Krabappel and say, “Ha!”

First-borns may have the good SATS, but they also have some  unfortunate personality traits to go along with their high verbal scores. My friend Lisa Belkin and HuffPo Parenting Editor Emma Mustich put together  a terrific crowd-sourced list of 28 Signs you’re Dealing with an Oldest Child , complete with Awkward Family Photos.

I felt compelled to represent the other end of the sibling spectrum: the neglected, jaded, free-range Youngest Sibling in a Big Family. To that end, my list of:

Don't bother looking for me: I wasn't born yet.

28 Signs You’re Dealing with a Youngest Child


#1 Entitled to nothing.

#2 Happy to sit in the back seat of the car well into adulthood. Even the way, way back.

#3 Buys used cars, second -hand clothes and ‘vintage’ furniture.  What is this thing you call “first-hand?”

#4 Will never make fiancee sit through the traditional post-engagement evening of Going Through the Family Photo Album to Look at Pictures of Childhood because there are no pictures of childhood.

#5 Answers to almost any name. Literally, any name.

#6 Constantly surprises older siblings with references to “playing on the high school tennis team” or “going to college” as older  siblings have no recollection of any of these events.

#7 Has photographic memory of every event that happened to older siblings, including what they were wearing and what Mom yelled.

#8 Rarely expects a bed at large family gatherings. Prefers futons, couches or tent in the backyard. (Yup, for my sister’s Julie’s wedding at home, my parents made my brother  and I sleep in a tent in our own backyard.)

#9 Has a record collection that includes 4 copies of Boz Scaggs Silk Degrees inherited from older siblings.

#10 Has a book collection that includes 7 copies of The Catcher in the Rye and 4 copies of  Go Ask Alice.

#11 Never expects to be served first.

#12 Expects to do have to do the dishes anywhere, anytime, at any event.

#13 Occasionally stuns family with competency.

#14  But still treated like 14-year old.

#15 Pleased as punch to have a seat at the Grown-Ups Table.

#16  Personal Motto: I wasn’t born yet.

#17 Will never bore you with stories of family trips to national parks because the car wasn’t big enough for the entire family, if you know what I mean.

#18 Barely got a word in edgewise until age 15, so a very good listener.

#19 Enjoys being decades younger now. Really, really enjoys it. Like not in a  healthy way.

#20 Leaves the room when older siblings reminisce about “the Christmas we all got new skis.”

#21 Keeper of all the Family High School Year Books  for some reason.

#22  Thrilled at spacious college dorm room and awesome bunk bed.

#23 High levels of proficiency in laundry, sandwich-making, entertaining oneself and waiting.

#24  Large vocabulary.

#25  Never even reaches for the remote. Why bother?

#26  Learns from others mistakes.

#27  Stays under radar.

#28  Gets away with murder.



Any to add? Can we hear from the Middle Children? 

Related Post:

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Urban girl November 7, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Great list, Lian. Youngest of 3, still washing dishes at holidays with my parents only granddaughter. We have so much fun, we tell the others to get out of the kitchen. I finally made it to the main table at 35. The middle sister had a fit 2 years ago when she found her Barbie doll clothes in a box in my basement. She’s 53. Which started another round of You Got Everything You Wanted.

Chris November 7, 2013 at 4:28 PM

I’m the middle child – with an older sister and a younger brother. So just plain old vanilla middle – not the first girl and not the baby or the only boy like my brother. I did get all my sister’s hand-me-downs…so around 5th grade figured out that when I was getting something new…not to get anything similar to hers, or I’d be wearing that same shirt for 4 years instead of 2! ;) The advantage of being in the middle is that I’m close to both of my siblings, the disadvantage was always being compared to my sister.

I’ve been intrigued by birth order ever since having my own kids. I have a boy and a girl, 2 years apart. I hate to say it, but yes, my son does have many of the first born traits, and my daughter has many of the youngest-born traits–despite that I feel I treat them similarly. I enjoy finding out where people fall within their own family’s birth order, and often certain things make sense once you find out.

Super interesting. Thanks, Lian! So glad the Chaos has returned!! Not that it ever really left! :)

Joan Vivian November 7, 2013 at 4:20 AM

Thank you, Lian! I can totally relate. My mother put together a two-hour video of all of our old home movies. My oldest sister is the star for all two-hours, my brother was co-star for 90 minutes, my next sister was the delight for an hour or so. At the end, it got to me at a birthday party doing a peanut hunt and as I turned to wave into the camera, the film melted. The End.
Leslie, Jack, Bonnie, JOAN.

marycatherine November 6, 2013 at 4:22 PM

So Funny! I was number 3 out of 4 but still smaller than my younger brother. My assigned seat in the car was the front seat in the middle between my parents because my brother got in the way of my dad while he was driving. Of course that was where the hump was! I just know they were all having a better time in the back seat without me. Number 28 is the best though. The younger ones do get away with murder!!

Sally November 6, 2013 at 9:21 AM

I am the third of four children — not the first girl, not the first boy and not the baby. I made my own life from a pretty early age. When I achieved it was for me. When I failed, well, that was on me, too. I was a high school cheerleader for three years and the first time my parents saw me cheer was my senior year. And… I actually wondered why they came to the game? Was it really to see me?! Turns out, it was.

I always knew I was loved; my insecurities were few. Middle wasn’t so bad.

P.S. Lian — I loved Elizabeth the First Wife. Fantastic! Helen of Pasadena will be next.

Lian November 6, 2013 at 9:09 AM

hahahahaha. My family characterized me as “the carsick one’ for years. Um, maybe it’s because I was FACING THE WRONG WAY IN THE WAY, WAY BACK!!!

Natalie November 6, 2013 at 2:28 AM

My sister-in-law, youngest of 6, talks about her “Very Special Seat” in the family car. UNDER the dashboard of the Mustang convertible. LOL!

Christina from MN November 5, 2013 at 9:42 PM

Nice job Lian! I can relate to many of these…Youngest siblings unite! :-)

Jennifer November 5, 2013 at 7:55 PM

Perfect Lian! This so describes my husband (youngest of 4), except for the dishes thing…we have a collection of yearbooks in our basement too! Thanks for the laughs and great to hear you again with a Chaos Chronicles podcast!

Ma Schmidt November 5, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Love it! Though I wasn’t the youngest of many and all don’t apply – I think the last one really sums it up!

Joanne November 5, 2013 at 6:31 PM

Love this post. I’m the youngest of three and the only girl. I got hand-me-downs…from my brothers. Yuck! My baby book just has that I was born. #5-I was called girl. ? Did they forget my name too? But it is nice to be the youngest now that we are in our 40′s. Haha, they’ll hit 50 first!

Adrian Jackson November 5, 2013 at 4:05 PM

I am not the youngest, but I’m close enough. While my second sister bemoans her status as “middle child” (there is no center of four!), I bemoan no longer being the youngest (four glorious years!). I grew up with “she can take care of herself” and “don’t be like your sisters.” I never got to the grown-ups table. Worst of all, I never got music or dancing lessons because my two older sisters were frequent quitters and mom wasn’t willing to invest another dime in the arts. Just call me Sandra/Chris/Adrian/Lea.

Diane Gray November 5, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Excellent! I appreciate this even though I am an oldest child. Well, older of two, and the other is a brother. Begged my parents for more children so they would ignore me. It didn’t work.

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