Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Paving the Way

Riding in the car this morning while Brailey Shaye wrote out her spelling words in a notebook, practicing for her Friday test, I was struck once again with the notion my mom has brought to my attention many times - the younger child isn't "smarter," like everyone thinks they are. Rather, they reap the rewards of the oldest child's experience. It has taken me over four months to figure out the most effective way to help Brailey Shaye study her spelling words. Now that she has endured the pain of my "help," we seem to have it handled... Four months later? Geez! Which is lucky for Britt, because by the time he is in second grade, not only will he have heard all the words Brailey is learning, he will know how to study for his tests most effectively right off the bat. This is but one example of how the oldest child paves the way for younger siblings. I only have my two B's, of course, but I think this could be said of any family with more than one kid. I used to think Britt was sooooooooooo smart. Well, yes, he is quite brilliant (I mean, really, I'm not the only one to think this - just ask Brady's mother!), but so is Brailey Shaye. Instead of having to deal with all the emotions and fears that his sister had to endure, Britt goes through them at the same time Brailey does, only on a much safer scale. Preschool? He couldn't wait to go! After all, he'd been there every day to drop off and pick up Brailey Shaye and it looked like such a fun place. Kindergarten? Same thing - he'd been in that classroom every single day of the school year. He won't even have to go through the trauma of starting a new school, like she did in first grade, because he's been there with her every single day. The school he will start next year is familiar and comfortable to him, already. He's even heard Spanish, which Brailey never encountered until her first day of first grade. And even now, as Brailey goes through each grade and stage of her life, I am stumbling along, trying to determine the best way to help her. Britt is already doing well in reading, because this time around, I take the time to listen to him read. The teacher has changed some things from when Brailey was in Kindergarten, also, but because of Brailey's struggles, I now know the importance of listening to them read out loud. I myself was the oldest kid in the family, and it does put a burden on your shoulders. It isn't easy to have your parents test drive everything on you, and then by the time they get to the next kid, they have it down to a science (as much as that is possible). We haven't pushed Britt nearly as hard as we push Brailey Shaye. The sad thing is, you don't even realize you are pushing the oldest - you think you are helping them. But when your help crumbles around your broken heart, you pick up the pieces, realize your mistakes and refine the process for the next time around. It is all part of the birth order, of course, but it does play a big part in shaping who they will become. I am thankful my mother gave me this insight. It isn't right to put the youngest on such a high pedestal, because while they are smart, they are also far more prepared, and that is a big advantage in the world of learning. In the world, period! Experience is everything, isn't it? Frankly, they owe it all to their older siblings. God bless the oldest children of the world!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! You are amazing! Your kids are so lucky. Hell, everyone who has ever encountered you is lucky to know you! Bobbi Jo, don't ever go a day questioning how phenomenal you are. I adore you and if one day I can be half as great of a mom as you are...my life will be a success!!

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