Tuesday, May 11, 2010

6 Kids, No Clue

I have an alarming pain in the left side of my torso, and I've decided I'm probably dying of some dread disease the name of which I have yet to Google. Not wishing to shuffle off this mortal coil without tying up some loose ends, I must explain to anyone who will listen that our cute-as-a-button Susie is the caboose of our family, and - as such - has never had the salutory experience of being replaced by an infant interloper who demands all the attention.

In other words, it is not my fault that she is spoiled.

You see, I would have happily continued having babies until the arrival of the first grandbaby, thereby keeping any one child from being the youngest in this family for too long. Alas, my peri-menopausal body, apparently deciding enough is enough, has inadvertently granted Susie the coveted title of "Baby of the Family" well into her kindergarten-age dotage.

Susie, unlike all her displaced siblings at age 5, needs help. She needs help getting dressed; she needs help amusing herself; she needs help foraging for something to eat. I envision her at age 40, showing up at her siblings' households and demanding food, entertainment, or a ride to Target.

Susie does not take "no" easily. Meaning that, in the throes of overweight, under-fit middle age, I must summon the strength to carry a kicking, screaming almost-5-year-old out of Michael's. I tell you, it is no mean feat to get a grip on 36 fighting pounds wrapped in a snow jacket while being kicked in the face by a pair of size 9 rainboots. It is even harder to maintain said grip while crossing a humongous parking lot (whose idea was it to get extra exercise by parking far away, anyway?) in order to restrain our not-so-little monster in her car seat. And, unfortunately, a 5-year-old - unlike a toddler, say - possesses the manual dexterity and mental acuity needed to unbuckle her seat belt and lunge for the automatic sliding doors while the driver is attempting to transport her little darling home.

[Thank you, Toyota, for the automatic-door override button on the driver's side armrest. Without it, I would still be sitting on she-who-will-not-be-refused in the Michael's parking lot, waiting for my husband to come rescue me. Or to be arrested, whichever came first.]

So tell me - how does a parent, without the aid of a needy younger sibling, remove the former baby of the family from the center of the universe? This tired 40-something mother would like to know.




[Baby picture credit: A Baby Shower Gift]

[Calvin picture credit: Let Go, Laughing]

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24 comments:

  1. I was so busy running here and there, homeschooling and chairing committees when my youngest was that age that I don't recall it being too difficult. Or perhaps he is just an easy kid? (This might be true.) Or perhaps it is because his father deployed for a year after he turned 6 years old. At any rate, he's still my snuggly boy, but he is terribly independent. I think he just wanted to do what his older brothers were doing, and babies can't do those things...

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  2. I struggle with a similar problem. At some point I looked at my 3 year old daughter and thought, "How is it you cannot dress yourself?!" I, too, diagnosed the problem as the lack of a younger sibling. Unfortunately, other than the whole "be consistent," "make her fend for herself," blah, blah, blah schpeel, I got nothing. Maybe just wait out the next 15 years (with her locked up with duct tape in her room) and then foist her off onto an unsuspecting society? That's my tack anyway.

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  3. I think you found the cause of your torso pain... Child-wrangling and size 9 rainboots!

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  4. I don't know, right now my third seems way more independent than my second. He was the baby for 4 1/2 years and I don't think he's outgrown it. Or it could just be that Five drives me insane. (His birthday can't come fast enough--just a few more weeks now!!) Just now the 18mo went and got her jammies and a diaper and put it in the bathroom, getting ready to take a bath. I don't think she's going to grow up helpless, baby or not.

    In more important matters, we got a note from the school nurse that lice were found in my older son's classroom. He checked out fine at school, but I still sent him for a buzz cut. The 5yo refuses to get a hair cut. He could have mice nesting in there and I wouldn't be able to tell...

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  5. I realized that was happening here too. So every once in a while I write down my expectations for Older Kid at whatever age he is. Then I stash it somewhere I'll find it in a year or so- I used to use the front of the baby book, now I'm trying the photo album. Anyway, I can look and see that at age 6, Older Brother could empty the dishwasher, get the mail, sort the laundry, pour milk, clear the table.... And then I get onto Younger Brother and try to expect more of him. I'd say this method helps... some.

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  6. I don't know, because I have the same problem. A seven year-old girl with two teenage sisters. I really don't remember helping my other two get dressed, towel off after a bath, get into pajamas, etc., when they were seven. I am really, really trying to get her to do things for herself, because honestly, I am just tired of being her lady-servant. There are some things I know her little skinny arms can't do, like lift a full gallon milk jug. But if she says between meals: "I'm hungry!" I say, "Well, you know where the kitchen is." It's starting to work, I think. Hopefully she's finally starting to realize that seven year-olds are big girls and can do things for themselves. I hope. Because dang, I'm tired.

    Oh, I almost forgot about the fit she threw in the grocery store. There was no school one day because of some testing or some such thing, so she had to go with me. She wanted some bubbles, and I had them in the cart, but she ended up wandering off (deliberately), which she is prone to do, which makes me crazy. I couldn't find her, so I went to check out, knowing she was in the store somewhere, and I found her up front by the candy machines. I decided that since she had decided to wander off and not stay with me, she wasn't getting the bubbles. She proceeded to cry and beg like a three year-old. I have never wanted to disappear under the floor as much as I have while she continued to whine, beg and cry the entire time the checker was scanning my cart full of groceries. Good thing she's small, maybe people thought she was younger than she really is. We left, finally...me, embarrassed, her, bubbleless. Sigh. You know how the "experts" say that if you say no and don't give in when they whine/tantrum, that they'll eventually understand that no means no and stop arguing with you? Riiiiiiiight.

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  7. As a former "Star" youngest child, rest assured she will become a marvelous, wonderful, kind, giving and modest person just like me!!! ME!!!! ME!!!!

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  8. It's too late for you, but the best thing is to do what I did. Have twins for your final children.

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  9. I say put the siblings on it. Though I will also say that our caboose could never stand to spend a moment alone until she was 14 and now she actually chooses it occasionally. We're not sure why.

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  10. AnonymousMay 11, 2010

    If I remember Susie likes food right? I would suggest giving her a Jelly Bean for every time she's good that she keeps in a jar. Every third day - or what ever - you let her eat how ever many are in the jar. she looses one for being bad. I also, would recommend throwing a glass of water in her face (at home) when a screaming fit starts... then tell her to get cleaned up and leave her be. I've done it with 5 kids and it only takes ONE time to stop it. but that's me. To teach my younger ones TIME management I set the timer and if they are not done in 20 minutes, I start the TV Show without them. Also, tell the older kids to stop helping her.
    Let's see, what other horrible sounding things have I done? Oh, if they are not in the car before me I leave... usually driving down the driveway scares them and they cry and are never late again. I've been told I was heartless. You know, maybe you shouldn't publish this comment... :). I really don't care.
    Really, after making the same mistake myself I find that it's my laziness that encourages his behavior. Which is even harder!!! I write down my expectations at a certain age too.

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  11. My caboose was [mostly] a lovely human being until around the middle of her junior year; she graduated from high school two years ago, didn't want to live with Mom or by Mom's rules, and has had a very rough two years learning how the big world works.

    She spent the first 18 months or so getting kicked out of one friend's home after another, sofa-surfed for awhile, and now is living with the next-older sibling and [finally, blessedly] turning into a grownup.

    What you have in your hand is the end of your rope. Tie a knot and hang on.

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  12. I don't know, but I'm interested in seeing how it goes for you. Our caboose is spoiled as can be. I am really annoyed with her so I'm trying to ignore her like I would if we'd had more babies... My husband has recently started saying we can adopt in a few years -- he must really be tired of her whiny shenanigans.

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  13. This is exactly what my son is suffering from - the Caboose Syndrom is also known as Only-Kid-itis. One of these days I'm gonna rectify the situation.

    And now I'm trying to think what my sister and I did with our little brother...oh yeah, either painting his nails, giving him orders, or COMPLETELY IGNORING HIM. He has turned out to be a very normal and likeable human being.

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  14. Cut'er loose, S.C., cut'er loose! Dead weight.

    Or, tape her eyelids back, tie her to a chair, and make her watch repeated viewings of the home alone series until she breaks.

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  15. I don't know how this worked out, but I got a super-independent "do it myself" kid for my last one. He's only three but he wakes up, let's the dog out, gets himself a yogurt and has a nice breakfast all before I know what's going on. I hope this continues.

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  16. My youngest brother is 21 and he still calls me for rides to Wal-Mart. And shows up expecting food. And entertainment. And what's worse is we give it to him! Or at least I do. After all, he's the baby.

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  17. Boot camp. KIDDING! I have no idea--sometimes I say NO to G just because. He's the youngest and spoiled too.

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  18. Try neglect. If you don't feed'em, their incentive to figure out how to forage goes up ;)

    It's my penultimate child who has a miserable time accepting no for an answer. I've considered making 'Accepting No' a homeschool subject for next year. The curriculum would be kind of like exposure therapy...

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  19. hmmm this is a hard one. But I like some of what Anonymous had to say, with the timer anyways. The water in the face, not so much, but I would use a squirt bottle for sure and I have on my 2.5 yr old to get him to stop spitting...my 4.5 yr old was as spoiled as they come, but now she dresses/undresses herself, gets a plate out at lunchtime and brings her dishes to the sink and puts her placemat away...we still have to work on wiping after #2, so she is ready for Kindergarten, but that will come in time. She can also make her own bed and FINALLY clean her room she shares with her 2.5 yr old brother...getting him to help...we we are not there yet!

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  20. Clearly you need another younger child. Talk to your friends, maybe you could borrow one for a few months. You could even tell Susie that you're auditioning a new baby, since she's not turning out very well.

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  21. Have you tried good old-fashioned guilt and peer pressure for the bad behavior?

    Once they've reached a certain age, I think your best bet is a well-placed threat. You put on your most menacing voice and in a near whisper say part or all of the following directly into their ear, "Stop that right there. How old are you? Do you see any other five year olds doing that? Have you ever seen your older sister do that? How do you expect to be able to do big girl things if you can't behave like a big girl? And I don't see any babies eating candy, going to Michaels, or riding a bike. Now straighten up." I am pure evil when it comes to that sort of thing, and this usually short-circuits them for me.

    As far as public humiliation for the parent, you have to remember that, unfortunately, tough love is tough on everyone. Everyone will understand. We've been there, done that. As long as it's HER tantruming and not YOU... ;)

    If all else fails, maybe Anna can give you some lessons on the "look of death" -- the look that says, "You can't possibly be talking to me."

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  22. My caboose is really independent, but still way more full of herself than her siblings were. She's a terror, and I 100% blame the fact that she has never had to "move over" for a baby.

    On wednesday evening she threw a tantrum when we were leaving the farmers market that left me weak. Getting her strapped in to her carseat -- right in front of a restaurant full of patrons -- was hell. She screamed and kicked and scratched at me and generally acted like she was possessed. Ran down the street, made me chase her. My other four kids were never *this* defiant, and never ran from me in stores, on streets, etc. During the whole car strapping effort, the other kids were stunned into amazement at the force of her fury -- which is almost never seen. They were wide-eyed and speechless, and when it stopped, they all said something sweet to me about how bad it was.

    I'm grabbing onto the end of that rope, closing my eyes, and hoping she somehow turns out alright. She'll probably be the most successful of the bunch, seeing as how she sees no limits to what she can do.

    No advice, just commisery.

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  23. I believe in the Biblical approach of not sparing the rod. And at that age was when it was most used. Now all it takes is the LOOK because theY know I will do it, anytime, anywhere

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  24. Oooo ooo ooo!!! I know this one! At least I know what advice I always gave my parents to cure my spoiled youngest brother. Get a MONKEY, or any living thing more needy and helpless and make him responsible for taking care of it. They never took my advice. BUT, my oldest recently got pygmy goats and they're teaching her pretty good... The downside is they're not indoor pets, that would work even better. Also, I can't believe how nauseatingly perfect all your reader's youngest children are. GAG! They obviously read your blog for the novelty of it all and not the validation. I however, feel your pain, your dragging the kicking screaming child caused so many flashbacks, I think my life just passed me by. And my kids could get out of the 5 point system by the time they were 3 years old. So much fun! I remember being too pregnant with the twins trying to get home from an appointment and my 3 yo fought so hard and long, after re buckling him 5 times to try to leave, i just gave up. I told him to do it. I told him if he didn't buckle up, he would die in an accident. He just screamed, "I WANT to die!!" I don't remember how long we sat and waited for him to pass out, but we made it home before I went into labor. He also OPENED the side door to the van once while it was moving!! Took about 10 years off my life in an instant. I live those child locks too!

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