Brothers And Sisters

Brothers and Sisters

Frank is away this weekend in Ohio, attending his brother and sister-in-law's baby shower. This has cracked people up when I've told them—it's kind of hilarious to imagine grumpy old Frank drinking mimosas and making diapers out of tissue paper or whatever people do at baby showers—but I don't think it was that kind of scene. More of a family reunion.

This is, after all, his parents' first grandchild. When I first found out that his younger brother (younger than me, even!) was a) getting married and then b) becoming a father, of course I freaked out. Regular readers of this column will know that it is my wont to freak out about nearly everything. Look, there's two types of people that write about their lives on the internet: neurotic freaker-outers and people with exciting lives. Try reading the dating column if you prefer the latter.

Anyway, so whatever, I'm over it. They're very mature for their ages and live in a place where cultural norms skew toward younger adulthood than here, etc. But it did get me thinking this weekend about birth order. Be forewarned, I had a lot of time to myself this weekend to think a lot, so maybe this is dumb.

But it occurred to me that I couldn't think of a couple that I know who don't share the same birth order position, if you let only children act as switch hitters, which I think is only fair since some parents raise their only kids like eldest kids and some raise them like youngest.

That just seemed funny to me. Frank and I are both eldest siblings, with the next kid down being much more responsible than we are. I also have a youngest brother who is much less responsible than me, but that is a story for another day.

His brother and my sister are both totally more together than either of us were at their ages, two and three years younger, respectively. They are both people who are naturally organized, good with money, and hardworking—basically the opposite of me and Frank. Also, we both used to fight like hell with them and now are really glad they're around, and both siblings also went through a phase where they were really mad at each of us for various things we did to them during childhood.

So it's funny that we ended up together, and it amazes me too look around at my friends and see the same thing. I know some pairs of youngest/youngest, some middle/middles, a youngest/only and an eldest/only, plus of course lots of eldest/eldest, but no mix-matches.

I found a book that some dude had written about birth order and romantic connection, and he thinks that I'm wrong. According to him, female eldest children should date male youngest children with older sisters, because us older kid ladies have maternal instincts and youngest males want mothering. Which, whatever, Dr. Kevin Leman, I haven't read your book and you are a doctor, but that makes me think that you were an only child. Or at least never had any older sisters.

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Because while I don't have maternal instincts of any kind (and anyway, that would be a creepy way to relate to a partner, right?) I do have an insatiable desire every now and again to tickle someone until they cry or to hold someone down and force-feed them leaves. And it's funny, I can see the same instincts in Frank, who is otherwise a completely non-violent human being. It takes another eldest to know how to defend against the cruel tendencies of eldest children.

Anyway, I'm sure this is a thing that psychologists have spent lots of time thinking about, and I fully realize that my tiny pool of anecdata is not scientifically meaningful. Still, it's an odd thing to see in action. What do you guys think? Same birth order or mixed birth order? Or does it matter?