Youngest Sibling/Bottom of the Pile
Guest post by Jonathan Sarver
Note to readers: The opinions expressed by this son are not always endorsed by his parents.
This was written by our youngest son when he was on the cusp on adulthood a few years ago. Know anyone else like this?
Having progressed through the phases of life to my current location in early adulthood, I realize many things I thought were quirks of mine actually were common to everyone in that time of life.
However, in many ways, I was and still am someone who doesn’t fit into any mold.
At least that's what I thought until I stumbled upon some mind-blowing information.
I researched the way birth order affects our personalities. What I read was like taking a sneak peek into my soul. I was dumbfounded. Could there really be a science behind the things that make up the very fiber of our being? Life experience interacting with people my age confirmed my theories.
I am the youngest child in my family; I fall in line as the last of seven children. Youngest children in families often become the most outspoken, unashamedly independent, and unique members of the family.
A google search turned up a list of common personality traits. I found many things such as: charming, affectionate, immature, more agreeable, rebellious, empathetic, artistic, persistent, popular, social, confident, attention-loving, impatient, manipulative, independent, and sneaky.
One can find these stereotyping lists all over the internet nowadays.
But what is it really like to be a last-born? What does it look like to get inside our heads and view the world through our eyes? I'm about to show you.
For starters, I'd say the most predominant trait of last-borns is feeling like the forgotten child of the family. I'm not looking for pity here. We're like the child equivalent of bureaucracy. We feel so much has come before us that we're lost in the shuffle. After cautious first-time parents get a little more comfortable with parenting, they start to relax. They don’t make such a big fuss over first steps, first words, or potty training of the last child.
We are barely noticed, and hardly get a word in edgewise until about age seventeen. Consequently, we nearly fall out of our seats when people acknowledge us as functioning adults with valuable opinions.
This brings me to my next point. Another huge trademark of the youngest is our extremely casual, nearly flippant view on life in general. No matter our age, we were always "the baby," and were treated accordingly.
We may never be treated as adults; we are just used to it. We could walk into a family gathering at age thirty-five, talking to the President of the United States on video chat, and the family would scarcely glance our way with casual interest.
I'm not sure if this is to blame for our extremely laid-back attitude. I do believe it accounts for one of our greatest flaws - becoming reliant on others for basic life skills. Need me to dry a load of laundry at age twenty-one? Never touched a dryer. I can tell you pi to the thirty-seventh digit from memory, though.
All this permanently fixes the inner child into our personalities. In fact, should we ever find ourselves behind the desk at the oval office, our first order of business would be to see how fast the office chair would spin.
This brings me to my next point. We don't care. About anything.
Need me to sit at the table with the kids at age twenty-five because there isn't any more room at the adult table? Ok.
Where do we want to eat? Don't even burden us with the task of choosing.
The only way to get to that famous concert over 500 miles away is by riding in the trunk of your car? Ok. Sounds good to me. I always wanted to try that anyway. It's nice and peaceful back here in the dark. Just run my phone charger through the crack in the seat, would ya?
Oh, so you need me to help you overhaul the engine of your car? Sure. After all, you did help me cut up that deer I shot last week.
Whether spending a week sleeping on the floor of a mud hut in Ghana, or parking three blocks from home and having to walk every day because our roommate took up snowmobile repair and his driveway is full⸺ it really makes no difference to us.
If you're looking for a trustworthy friend when you're in a pinch, or a partner for your next wild shenanigan, a youngest child will be more than happy to jump in and go at a moment's notice.
Aaaaaand of course, that brings me to my next point. We can act foolish. Seriously. You know that one friend who is totally irrational and will do literally anything on a dare? He's the youngest child.
This feature connects with another of our biggest traits. We are sneaky as Delta Force ninjas on a recon mission at midnight in the outer reaches of a Communist country.
Of course, most parents, especially mine, (that's a story of its own) have expectations and don't just let their child run free with no boundaries like some savage, wild little urchin. But we want to try everything and spend our lives on the edge, seeing how much we can get away with. This necessitates the ability to develop ninjas skills to the level we could steal a radio and leave the music playing.
Necessity is the mother of invention. This skill in rule-bending stays with us throughout our lives. We will always be experts at staying under the radar and getting away with things. You could say we are expert manipulators and good at learning how to maneuver systems and pecking orders. Since we got a discreet front row seat to our entire family's dynamics our whole lives, this just comes second nature.
Yes, being manipulative is another one of our biggest flaws.
Just for the sake of example of our craftiness, once when I was a teenager, I sneaked into my parents' bedroom late at night, stole my mom's phone from under her pillow while she was sleeping, texted girls for a while, then deleted all the messages and replaced the phone without ever stirring her. Seriously. (Sorry Mom.) The moral of all this? We are really fun and always there to make a good partner for your next round of pranks.
All that I have just said may make this next statement hard to believe. We're usually the most simple, trustworthy, and straightforward people out there. As I said before, we always have a very laidback, nonchalant view of life. We really see no point in playing stupid games and making life hard. We like it when other people are straightforward and open, so that's what we try to do ourselves.
You want a friend who is reliable as the day is long, and will always give good, honest counsel when you need it? Go to a youngest child. We are extremely empathetic, and can instantly go beneath our seemingly carefree, unserious exterior to withdraw shockingly profound advice.
You want a friend that you can buy a bag of Skittles© and that weird foreign soda for, and they will honestly be tickled pink? Look no further. We are that simple to please.
This brings me to my last point. I speak for all youngest children when I say, just let us live our lives. We are dreamers.
We have mental patterns like no one else, but that does not make us weird, wrong, or stupid in any way. History was never made by people who fit the status quo. We are most likely to leave the state our entire family has occupied since the 1700s and move to the other side of the country just because we "like the Rocky Mountains." At least I did.
Tune in next week for part two. By the way, being sneaky has prepared him for what he does for a living. See the video below.
What about you? Any comments on youngest siblings you know?