Category Archives: oldest child

Errands

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This is a nostalgic post about the many days I spent with my mother doing

errands with her. I was blessed to be the only girl, my brothers were not

interested in tagging along with us.  Ever!

My father was put in charge of the ‘boys,’ while we sometimes dressed up

and went to the downtown Sandusky shops. Then, when I reached third grade,

we sometimes ventured off to downtown Cleveland. The big stores, like The

May Company, Halle’s, and Higbees department stores. Each had their own

luncheon menus, nice dining rooms and calm, quiet atmospheres.  It was so

indulgent of Mom to treat us to a nice meal out.

There were other errands, like to the individual stores, where you would go

into, just to make one or two purchases.  Not like today, the one stop shopping

experience! Nor were we yet, going to malls to search for necessary items.

In the paint store, we would look and look through colors of paint chips.

Sometimes those strips were available, but not sure when the time frame

was that they arrived at the paint store.

We also would go in antique stores and look all around, sometimes only to

purchase one vase or gift for my aunt, one of mother’s friends or for one of

the book shelves or display shelves in our home. I liked when we looked at

odd things, like tiles that were taken out of an older home, headboards or

frames for paintings. I had only two things I collected which were place card

holders and birds of all kinds. I normally would just look, unless my birthday

or Christmas were approaching. I was not one who would ask for anything,

though. Somehow, I just liked to look at all the pretty and interesting things.

 

At the fabric store, where all sewing items were sold, we would spend hours

pouring over the patterns for ‘back to school’ clothes, for her and for me. She

and I wore matching clothes to church sometimes, but while we were in two

different school districts, it never worried or embarrassed me to know that

my Mom may be wearing the same fabric and pattern, only a whole different

size! My favorites of all the parts of the store, were the turning racks of cards

with buttons on them. I also liked choosing rick rack for the edges of skirts.

One wonderful and sensory memory, was the smell of the fabrics! While men

may be excited about the scent of the ‘new car smell,’ I still love the smell of

textiles! The final nice memory, which really came flooding back to my mind,

today while quietly visualizing my experiences of errands is using the sense of

hearing. This is a sound which came resonating and reverberating back to me:

“Thump, Thump, Thump!”

The big bolt of cloth being unwound from its cardboard base.

Followed by the unmistakable sound of the fabric shears slicing through the fabric,

going along the weave, or the ‘bias’ of the fabric.

Then, the sales clerk, folding the fabric up, tabulating the items that went along with

it, buttons, thread, lace or rick rack, and the patterns. (Sometimes a zipper was also

purchased.)

Carefully gathered, placed into the bag. Sometimes it was a paper bag with handles, in

later years, it was a plastic bag.

If we were running to the grocery store, on a whole different day, we may not get so

dressed up. This may just be pants or shorts for me, a nice clean top inspected by my

Mom. My mother wore dresses through until the 70’s, for her wardrobe for ‘going out’

in. Then, there were pant suits, matching items.

Mom’s choice of makeup meant, a mirror came out, a lipstick was smoothed over her

lips, her face powder was applied, and then rouge.

She has still ‘Bette Davis’ eyes, which don’t need any mascara and she hardly ever chose

to wear eye shadow, either!

 

When you think of ‘errands’ you ran, with one or both of your parents, what senses seem

to be important to your memories?

What is a memory that is so fresh that you can remember many details to it?

5 Cheers for Sesame Street!

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I went to see “Sesame Street Live!” with my oldest daughter,

who turned 34 years old and my youngest grandson, Micah.

It was amazing, filled with little lessons, dancing and singing.

I could not believe that the “Letter of the Day” was “M” and

later, we found out, in their performances, the “Number of

the Day” was “5.”

“M”icah who turned “5” on February 27th was thrilled! I was

speechless, trying to concentrate on capturing a photo of the

flashing lights that were saying, “5, off, 5, off, 5!”

I finally got those three 5’s in a position that their red

color stood out, in contrast, from the deep blue of the

surrounding framework of the stage. Then, again, capturing

our special, favorite characters, when they weren’t moving

quickly, jumping or gliding across the stage, was my next goal.

Micah was shouting, “There’s Elmo!” and “There’s Grover!”

When we weren’t laughing, looking across Micah’s head, my

daughter and I were grinning from ear to ear. Carrie said,

“I hope that Grover comes down the aisle, Micah, so you

can give him a hug! I wish I could give him a hug, too!”

Turns out, she would have had to crawl over or run over,

multiple little tykes to get to Grover. Micah was able to

maneuver and squirm through, (hopefully not pushing too

much!) to get a big hug from not only Grover, but Cookie

Monster, too. It was dark and several rows away from us,

but we saw him do this both times.

The crowd was very responsive to any suggestions to clap

or answer questions. There were a few songs that I would

like to mention. One I loved the imagery of the whole cast

of Sesame Street with their yellow slickers or raincoats

on, with video images of cookies falling from the sky,

and the song was, “It’s Raining Cookies!” (To the melody

of “It’s Raining Men!”)

Another song was one I had covered as one of my favorite

children’s songs, in a post about attending Lara and

Landen’s elementary school for Grandparents’ Day. It is

called, “Sing a Song.” The line that is so simple but

sweet that tugs at my heartstrings is “Don’t worry about

whether you can sing or not….” and has the lines,

“sing it loud, sing it clear!” This was very nicely acted

out and the whole gang did it very well in the show.

My favorite special moment was when Bert and Ernie were

sitting side by side on a bench. Chaos was happening

all around them, characters running around in circles,

music and dancing. They were sitting quietly watching.

It was a lovely moment, indeed. I love those two guys!

Do you remember the Golden Books post, where an author,

who had been the editor of Golden Books shared lessons

learned by reading or being read to Golden Books? Sesame

Street is part of the Golden Books’ line of books.

These book and television show characters are very much

part of my family! My children and grandchildren all have

their beloved books but by far, their favorite book is

“The Monster at the End of This Book.” In the ending, the

monster ends up to be, “lovable old Grover.”

I felt that there were valuable lessons in the show I saw

with my daughter and grandson. Here are some of the morals

and values imparted through songs and interactions.

I thought I would do a version of lessons I gathered

from going to see the “Sesame Street Live!” show.

Lessons that “Sesame Street” Teaches (or Taught) You:

1. Give back anything you “borrow” or take something.

Elmo “borrowed” a little girl character’s fairy wand.

2. The words, “I’m sorry,” go a long way in making

forgiveness easier. The person should be gracious, in

return. The little girl could tell Elmo didn’t mean to

be ‘bad’ and she answered back to his apology,

“Everyone makes mistakes!”

3. Be kind to one another. When Big Bird is doing laundry

for the messy duo of Bert and Ernie, he is cheerful and

there is a song that makes you feel that helping someone

out makes it easier to do chores.

4. Everyone is ‘lovable,’ even a Grouch! I was very

impressed when the Grouch stuck his head back into his

trash can, but he pushed upward and did a dance with

just his legs showing.

Micah exclaimed, “How cute is that?”

Both my daughter and I hugged him at the same time after

that ‘precious’ comment!

5. Every day is special! You may have a special word, letter,

number or feeling that is shared. They may talk about

“being friends.” The characters may talk about “sharing.”

Sometimes it will be a serious subject but it will always

end with it all working out okay!

6. Learning is fun! If you wish to learn Spanish, you can

recite the colors, red is “rojo,” white is “blanco,” blue

is “azul,” green is “verde,” and yellow is “amarillo.”

When you learn to count, the Count will use his best

Dracula voice, making it another way to enjoy numbers.

7. Singing and dancing should be part of your everyday

routines. I already mentioned the “Sing a Song,” but

do want to emphasize it is very hard to be ‘grumpy’

or ‘blue’ if you are dancing to the music!

8. Whenever possible, cookies can save the day! If

you are vegan, you can choose a healthier recipe, but

always remember that cookies make children smile! They

make them want to eat all their dinner, too!

Works for adults, too! For my Mom, ice cream is her

choice of ‘treats,’ to motivate her to eat her broccoli!

9. Owls truly are the birds of wisdom. The old, gnarly

tree on the dark scenery set with stars shining in the

sky, had a male owl wearing glasses. Also, there were

three little baby owls who popped their head outs out

of the tree’s knot holes. The characters asked him for

advice, which he intoned in a somber, scholastic way.

10. Families everywhere love their children. The way

they used the number five was to have five penguins

who went behind the curtain, coming out in different

international costumes. One time, the penguins wore sari’s

and silk sashes (Asian/Indian), another time they had long,

blonde braids with horned helmets (Scandinavian), the

maracas and straw hats with frayed ponchos, (Spanish/

Mexican) and other cultures were represented. The audience

cheered quite often during this presentation, along with

clapping five times.

It seems I am always telling you about something that is

very exciting and fun, happening to me, my family or my

friends. This is one thing that I cannot help doing,

sharing happy moments and imparting small ‘bits of wisdom’

gained along the way. I wish to bring you smiles.

Now, this last part is to be saved and savored for April

First. You will understand this to be my early ‘trick.’

After the program, we found our way behind the stage,

looking to get a photograph with my oldest with her ‘hero,’

Grover. We thought this would be a ‘full circle’ moment,

since that was one of the first books I had read to her,

including Grover. Once we were backstage, I requested

this usher to find out if there were any job applications.

I really was motivated to become a member of the traveling

“Sesame Street Live! entourage.

The man who hurried over, was still wearing this tall,

lanky yellow outfit, his “Big Bird” head of his costume in

his hands. Micah didn’t seem the least bit surprised.

My daughter could not believe that I was going to leave our

Delaware, Ohio home for 28 years. I was so enthusiastic that

I asked for a pen, then starting to fill in the past

employment section, right on the spot!

Can you believe I figured out a way to be around people of

all ages, dancing and singing, along with the great aspect

of traveling the country included in my future paychecks?

I mean, this would be a far better experience than joining

the circus!

Let me be the first to tell you, pre-April Fool’s Day:

“Surprise!!”

Did I have any of you thinking I would follow through on this

dream of ‘fame and fortune?’

Oh, Brother!

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From those Early Childhood classes to the Psych coursework, I have

a few pieces of information about birth order, siblings and the “onlies”

in the family. I hope to just talk and compare the studies and learnings

with my own experience with two brothers and my three children.

Since my six grandchildren are from age nine to age two, like little

stair steps, I probably will not include their growth so far or make any

hasty “predictions!”

Let’s think about the only children out there. I am sure most of you

have wished to be an “only child” at least once in your life! Their

secure life, being the center of their parents’ “doting” eyes, more

possession, and all new clothes, made me envious at times! I had

one good friend throughout my entire life who was an only child.

I am writing to a good, new friend, Tracy on our blog sites who is

lauching her son out into the world of college and it is a scary but

exciting moment for her.

The wisdom that I learned from rereading some notes on child

development about only children also includes not just their feeling

of security. I read that they relate to adults better, grow up being

more confident in mature or “adult” relationships, and they have

a parent or set of parents who introduce more activities, social

settings and make up for no siblings by being close knit. I am still

confident that this is a wonderful position to be in.

In the next “category,” are the first born children. I could go on

and on about my personal experience of being 18 months older

than my next brother and then 3 years older than my youngest

but who  wants to know more about Me? Ha!

There is a predominant “theme” going on, when you read about

how successful, both professionally and monetarily the first born

children achieve. This is not so true in my case, but having the

children, divorce and life were some setbacks. Both my brothers

have had great relationships with women with children. My

“youngest” brother has spent over twenty years with his wife,

who had three children of her own. I like that part of our personal

journeys, since he says, my having three children, being single

and having some similar dark hair and eyes could have contributed

to their successful marriage.

Although genes, parents attitudes and reactions along with that

ever present “danger” and sometimes “blessing” of peers (with

peer pressure) studies still say the relationship of siblings has

a huge impact on the way we see things and carry out our lives.

Certainly, in most cases, your brothers and sisters are the ones

who are your ready made play pals. They can impact upon your

life through those 10 -17 hours a week you spend once school

starts. Before school, obviously, endless hours can pass by yourself,

as an “only” or with your sibling(s).

First borns have become the majority of our Presidents, leaders

and again “successes” in the measurable ways that studies are

carried out. There have been even a few to impart this fact: First

borns may have higher IQ’s. I suppose, looking at it as a parent,

you spend a lot of time on that first one. I didn’t have much time

since my first husband envied the wonderfully combined ways

that my brothers and I worked as a team. So, we chose to “make”

a second baby (even finding out a higher probability way to have

a boy for our second child so we could be “finished.”) His brother

and sister, being 5 and 7 years older than he, made him feel

separated and not included in their older life style. It did contribute

to him rolling his big brother’s car out of the sloped drive at age 12

to go on a “cruise!” It also, always to me, made him seem so mature.

Little did I know…!

The second child or even, middle child, becomes a different source

of information. The ways the first born “cut the path” or led the

family are already formed. There are significant ways that the parents

have developed relationships with children through that first born

that impact the next born. The choices and points of view, even the

“rules” and discipline patterns are being developed before you, as

a second child, have come along.

The “middles” go to friends more, studies show, while the first born

goes to his or her parents for information and support, whether

emotional or financial. There are several stereotypes also in this

category, where they seem to not know their way, their position is

more precarious. Sometimes these sterotypes may influence your

thoughts upon reflecting upon your middle child, as they do mine.

Also, they may not be quite fair either. I found by having a son

between two girls, I would make a joke, maybe it would haunt me

later…”My son is the thorn between two roses.” We spent a whole

year in therapy, from age fifteen years to sixteen years old. My son

and I were very close before he turned nine, when I married my

last husband.

This is a little regretful confession, I allowed my second and third

husband to take my son’s position of being the “man in the house”

away. Believe me, I thought for sure this would be a relief! I am a

big analyzer and never dreamed that he loved sitting in the front,

being the navigator. Really! I didn’t know he even liked taking the

garbage out, starting my car and also, the chore of mowing the

lawn! Along came men, twice, (one for two years and then a

span of seven years of singledom, then another for 13 years

who each “took his position away.”) I was so sad when Dr. Miguel

Hernandez intoned these words to me. I thought he had always

his Dad, my first husband who loved him “best.” Sorry, but it is

true, my ex did not take my daughter (oldest) to any Cincinnati

Reds baseball games or Bengals football games. She stayed at

home with his second and third wives, sometimes to go shop

but usually to maintain by herself.

I thought by putting more time in with the girls, my littlest had

my full attention once the second divorce occurred, that son

would be just fine.

Anyway, the most important part of any time you spend with

your children is to pay attention to what they like. So, after or

before therapy, once a week, we did miniature golf or got a

big bucket of golf balls and whacked away at them. We went

off to bars, to play pool and drink pop with wings. We went on

walks, we talked and we celebrated his sixteenth birthday on

our own, with Mexicans singing their “Feliz cumpleanos” and

how he now had big “cajones!”

I can add to the middle child syndrome saying through the

fine art of observation of my middle brother and my son,

they are very creative, independent, have their own unique

identities and sometimes are more sensitive. They both have

a little “wish they had paid more attention to me.” My son used

to count the Christmas presents and the jelly beans in his

Easter basket. I think they want to really know they are loved!

Whoa! the youngest are amazing individuals in my children and

my brothers and I’s cases. They set their own path, sometimes

more secure in all that “trickled down” love. (This and a few of

the quoted words are all my opinions and not taken from any

books.)

The studies include for third or last born children, these lovely

“edicts” they are risk takers, they break the mold, and they

move ahead faster. They have bundles of “baby love” piled

on them. I can tell you this, if I heard it once, I heard it a 1000

times, my little brother was “cute” and “adorable.” He was a

blonde towhead that my brunette brother (18 months younger)

and I would declare, “was the mailman or milkman’s son,”

depending on which way we wanted to try and bring him a little

down!

At U.C. Berkeley, there was an interesting study of three famous

baseball players, all with the last name of DiMaggio. They were,

of course, Joe, (who married the gorgeour icon, Marilyn Monroe!),

Dom and Vince. In the study, they pondered, gathered information,

and came up with the conclusion that the youngest DiMaggio “stole

bases more often” which confirmed the studies in other areas of

the “babies in the family”: They are secure in areas unlike others

in the very same family.

I love this study that was done about favorites. Everyone believes their

parents show favoritism. I felt that my parents were “hardest” on me

and expected more. I am never sure, though, if some of the reasons

were that I was the only girl. There were some advantages to that! I

had my own room, my mother sewed matching dresses for us and I

was chosen to go along to the grocery store and to the Great Northern

Mall in North Olmsted. I was always happy to have these one on one

“ride along” experiences.

Anyway, the study, interestingly enough covered from the grown kids’

points of view compared to the parents. Of course, many parents were

kind and proper in their approach, saying they “loved them all the same.”

I could not disagree more with this statement, as a mother of three, I

loved them all differently, uniquely and favored each during different

stages of their lives. Sorry, but sometimes I relied and loved my oldest

daughter more. I loved the baby child since I knew she was my last one

and I didn’t have to share her, thanks to my ex’s mistake of infidelity

and a very sympathetic court. I got to raise her as my own while sharing

her with my then retired parents, brothers, and along with a generous

and loving (only sister) sister in law! Lastly, my son, like me, being the

only boy, had his own room, his own ways of getting away with things,

after all, a boy should be allowed more freedom (wrong thinking on

my part and very stereotypical! But it happened within my own siblings

and my life, so hard to break that pattern.)

A last intriguing study was done by a man named William Ickes, PhD.

He was a professor of psychology who did his research in 1983. You

probably can look this up for any further interest or verification. He

chose to look at the picture of male and female sibling relationships

and then, take the way they responded in a different setting. When

the girls with older brothers, boys with older sisters were studied

compared to ones who were only children or were oldest. The ones

who had someone to look up to and “emulate” (again my word choice)

This watching, imitating and respecting the ones who had gone before

them, helped these siblings combinations to break the ice and become

more social in a setting established by the researcher. He further

extrapolated that closer knit siblings within this study had more

positive relationships with the opposite sex. So, thank your older

brother or sister for that great marriage or romance, folks!

I feel an interesting end of this thinking and contemplating siblings, is

to picture growing older. I found a few situations that were written

about how the oldest ended up the caretaker of the parent(s). I also

found that sometimes the differences that were well entrenched and

established between siblings changed and evolved, very positively

when grown older.

Death and other tragedies can bring people in families closer or

widen the gap between siblings and parents. Sometimes there is

the hurt egos, the old feelings of neglect and playing the “blame

game.” I would hope, in all sincerity, that illness, death and other

disasters would bring new ties, building and binding those wounds

so that everyone can have a happier future. When my Dad was ill,

I have mentioned we had a jokes and funny stories “rule” that

everyone had to find something to bring smiles to Dad’s faces,

and I will tell you that I will never forget how we all felt so much

closer and so much joy, despite the true reason for our joking.

We tried to carry out some of Dad’s “bucket list” and we did

not cry nor complain. My brothers and uncle had built a ramp

for my Dad’s wheelchair about a week or two in the freezing

cold of winter, before he died on January 27, 2001.

Birth order sometimes affects personality, success rate, happiness

and does reveal continued patterns that show up across the world

in varied studies. Generalities can be proven, but also there will

naturally be exceptions to any “rules!”

My final thought, of course, is to try to repair any damages in your

relationships, whether with siblings, parents or friends. We all have

limited time on this earth, we need to be spending that “guilt free”

and carefree.

Happy endings are always the way that I wish you all to go!

Don’t postpone joy for another day!