1. a : being next after the second in place or time
If you're a parent of more than one child, you might have read The Birth Order Book. A friend gave this to me after babysitting for our girls many times and seeing our daughters reflect a lot of characteristics from her own family experience. I haven't read the book cover to cover, but I've read enough to believe there's something to it. There's a fair amount of nature and nurture at work in all of us and it's often difficult to separate the two. Is my third daughter K a talker because she's genetically predisposed that way or because she immediately figured out that if she was going to get attention as the youngest she would have to demand it? Tough to say.
It's also difficult to sort out how much of birth order is a result of your children sensing their place in the family versus how your different style of parenting impacts your children. I am not intentionally harder on my firstborn, but I will confess that I am harder on her. I don't intentionally pay less attention when K learns to do something that her sisters mastered long ago, but it does happen with some things. Despite this, I've found there's one thing that never gets old: your child learning to read. Not even seeing her learn to read, so much as seeing her go from toddling along with the words, to walking, to jogging. In the past few weeks, K has hit her stride with reading. And it is sheer joy to witness.
K is 6 1/2 and it took her the longest to get to this point. Her eldest sister A took us by surprise and didn't really learn to read so much as wake up one day and do it. B learned to do it, did it fine and then spent the summer between first and second grade devouring every book she could get her hands on. That summer, we went to the library twice weekly in order to have a fresh stock of books on hand at all times. Both A & B started first grade well ahead of K in terms of reading. Had K not been my third child, this might have concerned me. But I had seen twice already that it's a process that develops in its own way and over its own time. Sure, there are things you can do to encourage your child, but ultimately, you must just wait for her to see for herself how glorious it is to read everything around her.
I've tried to imagine what these last few weeks have been like for K. Did the letters start out jumbled together and finally begin to coalesce into meaningful words? Did she see a word as its individual parts rather than its meaningful whole? I'll never know. What I do know is that when she joined us in church today, she pulled out the Book of Common Prayer and started reading it. It was pretty tough going, so I put her in Psalms and let her go. I don't even have words for how happy this makes me.
We are a family of readers. A and B probably read well over two hundred books annually. J and I don't post those kinds of numbers (anymore), but we read regularly and with great enjoyment. I had wondered whether K, the most talkative and extroverted of my children, would really come to love reading. But I am now very hopeful. She spent nearly two hours reading yesterday. She read for an hour this morning before she ever got out of bed. That's a good Truss Girl!
So if you're a parent who has watched one child hit this particular milestone and you've wondered whether it will lose its shine the second, third or fourth time around, let me assure you it will not. I don't plan to have any more children. But I already smile in anticipation of hearing a grandchild, a niece, a nephew read to me. It never gets old.