Don’t be the youngest

Right when you think you’ve made it through the trials of being the youngest child, you end up having the youngest grandchild. And it begins. Again.

Being the youngest in the family has it’s advantages. You see just about everything life and child rearing have in store for you, so when it’s your turn, nothing comes as much of a surprise.

But an amazing thing happens to people when they’re done having two-year-old’s. They forget that they ever had a two-year-old.

Handling a willful kid between the ages of 24 and  48 months is sticky business. There are so many things that can, and do, go wrong at any given moment, it becomes a game of survival.

And those of you in my shoes know that survival means picking your battles. For instance, you can make your two-year-old ride in the cart at the grocery store, but you can’t force them to be happy about it.

Someone without a two-year-old would look at the situation and see a kid throwing a fit, their parent ignoring it, and tsk tsk at the mother for not controling her child. But sadly, they would invitably miss the most important point: the kid is throwing a fit from the cart. Contained.

In my world, a kid like June who’s locked and loaded and not touching anything in the store is nothing short of victory. Yeah, she’s going to cry about it, but tears or no tears, I win on the most important level, and I’m smart enough to know that you can’t force a two-year-old to do all their growing up at once.

I should take a moment to empathize with those of you who have children at the front end of the family train. Raising the first grandkids is like bringing an alien to Thanksgiving dinner. Everything they do is foreign and either cute or unacceptable. No one can understand why your toddler is always acting so childish.

Until the majority of the family has been plunged into parenthood, everything your kid does, and your subsequent reactions, are under routine scrutiny.

No matter which end you’re at, there’s nothing better for parents than cousins of a similar age.


  1. When I was 3, my brother had a brain tumor… It was worse than normal….

  2. I am the oldest. No problems there.

    BTW, I was looking at your FB pictures, and laughing at all the pictures of cheeseball June, because I have several pictures from when I was that age. We could have been twins.

  3. In my family luckily there are at least 2 if not three cousins at each age. Ahh what a comfort to know I am not failing at the parenting game haha! I am also the oldest in my family but I will try not to forget how it is to have a 2 year old! haha

  4. Isn’t it funny that you are at both ends… the oldest in Jason’s family and the youngest in yours! I guess that’s a predicament 🙂

  5. We’re in your situation only reversed. I’m the oldest in my family, and mother of the oldest grandchiild. Husband’s the youngest, and if it weren’t for the fact that his older brother waited until minutes before his wench of a wife’s uterus dried up and blew away before they had children, we’d have the youngest grandkids in the family, too. As it is, the oldest grandchild in his family is 35; my youngest is 14.

    I loved this line: “You can’t force a two-year old to do all their growing up at once.” Believe it or not, you’re still having to tell yourself when they’re 20.

  6. Our oldest son was the first grandchild on both sides of the family.

    He threw the most amazing tantrums when he was a toddler, the most memorable lasting over two hours. My inlaws were in town for a visit and got to experience this.
    It was awesome.
    He is now a very well behaved teenager. He rarely screams in the grocery store any more, which is good, because he’s way too big ever fit in the seat of the shopping cart.

  7. My kids are the 26th, 27th, and 33rd on my side, and the 1st, 2nd, and 4th on my husband’s. You are exactly right.

    I think people do remember parenting small kids was hard, they simply forget how hard it was. Kind of like, excuse the example, needing to use the restroom. When it is time to go, it consumes your every thought, action and future. After you’re done, you wonder what the big deal was. Until the next time you’re running for the loo and the memories come rushing back.

    Why does everything in parenting seem to come back to the bathroom?

  8. All the cousins are the same age on both sides of my family. It’s great for several reasons. But really, when grandparents live so far away, tantrums don’t matter. They think the tantrums are cute when they never see the grandkids.

    I have learned so, SO much about judging since having children.

  9. We have the oldest and the youngest kids in the family. Since we started early and finished rather late 🙂 I have to admit, I am a much better parent with the younger ones. I remember how hard it is, but mostly I remember that this too shall pass away, and I need to cherish the experience just a little while. As for fits, when mine have ventured to throw them, we leave and they don’t get anything. They learned at an early age that staying with mom in the store brought special treats that you didn’t get if we had to go home. Don’t get me wrong, they have thrown some amazing tantrums. It just had immediate consequences that were not pleasant for any of us. Having to sit on the floor at mama’s feet until you were finished is no fun. But it teaches a lesson that is not soon forgotten.

  10. I couldn’t agree more.
    PS- I loved the column (about BM’s), it had me rolling on the floor laughing 😀

  11. My son is the only grandchild on my side right now. My little sister (who is 17) just the other day asked, “Why don’t you control your kid?!?” because he was pestering the cat…again…after being attacked by the same cat twice already within the past half hour. She said it with such a rude tone (remember…she’s 17) and I was so frustrated with her AND my out-of-control toddler that I angrily retorted that it must be because my son has brain damage from being jaundiced as a baby. (Which, he doesn’t. But we did fire our ped. because she said so, and shortly afterward had CPS on our doorstep. So it’s become a family “joke”.) I just can’t wait until she has kids that beg the cat to attack them 50 million times in one night!

  12. I have the oldest grandchild on my husbands side and it’s been quite sad really. My in-laws, specifically my fil, didn’t want us around unless it was convenient for him. So we rarely used them for babysitters and only would go over to visit a handful of times a year.

    From my point of view all of the other grandkids have been and still are treated better than mine. It’s really heart breaking to watch my fil dote all over the younger grandbabies when he would barely even hold mine.

    Obviously this is a touchy subject for me so I’ll leave it at that and say this…

    You rock for strapping your child in a cart.