Our baby turned 6 yesterday. Six!
There’s just something about that number that makes me feel like she’s crossing the line into the world of being a big kid. It also caused me to spend some time reminiscing about all of those blog posts I wrote when we were expecting her.
- There was this one when I had big plans for my transition into my 40s and then found out I was pregnant.
- And this one when I went to my doctor’s appointment on my 40th birthday.
- There were all those posts about my advanced maternal age.
- Oh my gosh… THIS one when we found out it really was a GIRL!
- And then this one, when I explained her name.
Reading all of those old blog posts made me so thankful that I used to write here so frequently. And it also made me want to write something new. So in honor of Jayda’s sixth birthday, I decided to write about the joys and struggles of being a fourth born.
Jayda and I both share many, many common characteristics. She is my Mini Me in so many ways. One of our unique common characteristics is that we are both the fourth born. It’s also the reason I felt for so many years that we were depriving someone of life by not having a fourth child.
Our three older kids were each born with less than a two year gap in between. There is also a five-year spread between our third and fourth kids. So, that leaves Jayda in this space of being both a youngest child and sometimes feeling like an only child. Having grown up in a similar spot in the family, I fight for her rights with a ferocious spirit. I am an overprotective mama bear if I sense that she is being left out. I jump to her defense if her little voice is not being heard. I beg her older siblings to stop and listen when she’s trying to express herself. I want them to take her thoughts seriously and pay attention to her dreams and interests.
Being the fourth born is a blessing in so many ways. There are lots of benefits to being the youngest child. But life is also very different than it was for the older three. Here are a few examples:
YOUR PARENTS KNOW STUFF
I’m not saying your parents know everything. But unlike your big brother who both suffered and benefited from having parents who didn’t have a clue, you have parents who actually know a few things. They know they don’t need to drill you on your letter sounds or make you practice writing your numbers for hours on end. You will learn things when you are ready, and then you’ll drive THEM crazy wanting to practice all the time!
They know it won’t kill you to stay up past your bedtime or miss your nap. They know you can survive in the grocery cart without a special cushioned seat. They know they don’t need to hover over you every time you try something new at the playground.
They also know not to give you everything you want at the exact second you want it. They know you need to eat the dinner that was cooked for you and not something special that you ordered. They know they won’t be able to afford to give you every single thing every other child has, but that you will appreciate things more because of it.
YOU WILL MISS OUT ON STUFF
You’ve never been in a play group. You’ve rarely been to story time at the library. You’ve had minimal trips to the children’s museum or the zoo. You haven’t been to AWANA. You most likely will not be home schooled.
You’ve never really watched Veggie Tales or many other little kid shows. Life has been pretty busy getting all the big kids where they needed to be so there really wasn’t much time. Instead, you’ve watched stuff your older siblings didn’t watch until much later, like all of the Star Wars episodes and High School Musical.
You don’t have any cousins your age. This is the part that is probably the hardest for your mom.
Thankfully, when your family hangs out with other families, you have friends who also are the youngest sibling. Where ever you go, you have an amazing ability to fit in. You can hang out with 10 year olds or make new friends with younger kids who, like you, are stuck somewhere waiting for bigger kids to get done.
YOU GET TO DO STUFF
For all of the “little kid stuff” you’ve missed, there are just as many experiences you’ve had that only youngest siblings will have.
You’ve spent hours and hours hanging out with kids who are five to nine years older than you. You’ve watched high school basketball games and travel baseball. You’ve spent all day at gymnastics meets. You’ve hung out with other younger siblings waiting for youth group. You’ve had to develop physical abilities and hand-eye coordination beyond your years to keep up with big kids at the trampoline place or the mini golf course.
You usually get your way. We know it’s not fair. But you’re small. You’re cute. Everyone loves you. And we feel bad that you’re so often getting dragged along. So, yes. We give in to you. A lot.
You are the first child in the family to go to public school for kindergarten. You absolutely love it. You are learning tons and making so many friends. You have friends on the street and around the corner and all over the neighborhood. When we go places, you are often introducing us to some new family with a kid in your kindergarten class.
You’ve had way too much soda. You’ve had too much candy. You’ve had slushies and milk shakes and junk food that you shouldn’t have had, just because the Big Kids were.
YOU ARE CHERISHED
Each child has a unique place in the family and is loved completely. But with you, your parents realize how fast you will grow up. They’ve seen how quickly the other kids are growing up. They know to enjoy every moment with you.
The older three were all little at the SAME TIME. They had the benefit of growing up with constant play mates. With you, your parents have had a little more space to focus on just you. You’ve slept more nights in their bed than the other three combined and multiplied by 100. They know the snuggles won’t last forever.
I was called “The Baby” by my parents until I was in high school. You have always been called “Tiny Person” or “Small Person.” You’ve learned to communicate in a way that is too advanced for your years. You can accomplish tasks that many young children haven’t ever tried. You seem like a much older person wrapped up in a small person’s body.
You essentially have grown up with five parents. You have five older people in your family who love you and dote on you. You don’t get caught up as much in sibling rivalry because of the age gap. You are loved and you have a special way of making everyone else feel loved.
We’ve said it so many times, but we will say it again. We are so thankful you joined our family. Until you came, we weren’t complete. We couldn’t have known what was missing. But now that you’re here, it’s so obvious how much we needed you.
Happy birthday, Six Year Old! We love living life with you!