Kathleen Norton

Ring Ding please!

Posted on: September 21, 2010

My crown has lost its luster

I am trying to quit.

But it’s not what you’re thinking. This is not about the usual stuff. Drinking. Smoking. Collecting garden gnomes.

What  I’m trying to quit is my birth order. I want to resign my position as Firstborn. Or, as my three younger sisters used to call me  (and probably still do when they are texting about me): The Queen of Bossy Island.

My sisters may not believe this – and neither will any of the middle and youngest children out there – but we First Borns get tired of being in charge.

Do you think we like telling everyone what to do all the time?

Do you think it makes us happy that we will always know more than you do because we have more time on this planet?

We do not. It is exhausting.

Besides, at least in my case, the younger ones don’t listen to me like they used to.

As kids they had no choice.

I was put in charge of the backyard and if they wanted a push on the swing, they had to fetch me snacks as payment.

And now? Well, I can’t remember the last time one of them needed a push, or got me a Ring Ding on command.

“Get your own Ring Ding!” they sniffed at the last family reunion.

My powers over them have been significantly diminished.

To make matters worse, they’ve started examining my face for aging signs so they can see how theirs will look in a couple of years.

“Ouch!’’ is a common reaction.

This is from the younger sisters who once swooned over my grownup lipstick and begged to borrow my sweaters.

The same sisters who needed me to tie their shoes and were once at my beck and call now consider me their own personal version of Back to the Future.

Being the First Born pretty much stinks these days. But quitting the behavior that comes with it turns out to be no picnic, either.

I spent a half a century (has it been that long?) telling younger siblings what to do. Putting on the brakes is painful.

My first idea was to find somebody else’s siblings to boss instead. This was a bust. Not a single person obeyed when I yelled, “Get me a Yoo-hoo and make it snappy!’’ on the street the other day.

One woman did pause briefly.

I’ll bet she was probably a middle child, which means she would have gone for the Yoo-hoo to make peace and shut me up. But then she moved on.

She must have a good therapist, whom I may have to borrow at some point to overcome my behavior.

My best friends have been absolutely no help. Most of them are firstborns, too, and together we morph into a big, bossy blob.

Changing myself may turn out to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done – including when I went cold turkey in the middle of a TV Land “Happy Days’’ marathon.

It was not pretty. Weaning yourself off the Fonz never is.

But resigning as Queen of Bossy Island?

Hallucinations about Potsie, Ralph and Richie are going to seem like a hoot after this.


7 Responses to "Ring Ding please!"

lol, awesome. I’m a firstborn too and could SO relate! I’m still as bossy as ever but like you – all of my friends (well, most) are firstborns, too!

We firstborns always seem to find each other.

As a middle sister, I LOVE the idea that the first born will always be older and always hit those milstones first. It s a very comforting thought, but you know what they say about payback…

The benefits of being firstborn seem to gone away!

Same here…I am a firstborn too…..I had just a younger brother to boss over..but oh, the feeling was so good…Except when we fought over toys (or anything at all) and when the matter inevitably reached my parents, I would be told – “He’s smaller than you, so you should give it to him.” Hmmph!

Yes, everyone thinks the First Born power is so great. But it comes with a price!

Okay, I’m one of 7, 5 girls, 2 boys; I am #3 overall, #2 in the Sister order!! My older sister, Eileen, was THE SAINT! I was the REBEL, not wanting to be saintly, but wanting to be NOTICED! Well, I WAS noticed, and guess what?! Now I’M the saint – go figure! Don’t tell Eileen about this e-mail!

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