A while ago I posted a blog about what I had learned from my daughters. At the time it occurred to me that I had missed out another member of the family and one that also had things to teach me. I am talking, of course, about my son.
When the kids were small we used to say that in our family was a boy sandwich, girls on either side, the boy in the middle. Research says that a child’s position in relation to their siblings makes a huge difference to their personality: the eldest child tends to be the responsible one, the high achiever and because they like order, the bossy one, the youngest is the charmer and good with people, the middle child the most flexible, the negotiator, the one that goes with the flow.
Looking at my daughters the eldest and the youngest, some of the above is true. Posy certainly was the one that organised the others. Mostly she made them take part in her plays, or contribute to the magazine she wrote and edited. Lucy, on the other hand, has always been a people person, the one in her peer group who counselled her friends when their love life fell apart.
As for David, the characteristics he has of a middle child are those traits that have much to teach his over-anxious, eldest born mother.
First and foremost is his ability to go with the flow. When I’m agonising, or ranting over something David’s comment will often be “It is what it is,” and of course he is right. There is little I can do to change whatever it is that has annoyed or infuriated me, but I can change my attitude and view it in a more laid back fashion thus saving myself much angst.
The next lesson from my son is the art of debate and negotiating, something he’s been skilled at since childhood. No temper tantrums just an argument as to why he should be allowed to get up at six am to watch The Open University− no twenty-four hours of TV in those long ago days.
He’s also good at seeing the other point of view and arguing logically, which when dealing with any issue is important and can lead to genuine debate rather than descending into a mere exchange of dearly held positions.
Another thing my son has taught me is the art of giving spontaneous presents. A book he thinks his Granny might like arrives from Amazon and fills a lonely afternoon.
And I still smile about the unexpected arrival of the “The Box of Delights.” I’d tweeted how much I’d enjoyed watching the TV series at Christmas, but couldn’t do that anymore as we only had it on video tape and a day or two later a slim line parcel arrived from Amazon.
Of course it is great to get presents at birthdays and Christmas but there is something so special and life affirming about these surprise packages, as indeed there is about David and his ability to enjoy life. Another lesson well worth learning.