I firmly believe in nearly all the research I read about birth order, unless it has spelling errors, then I’m seriusly skeptical. My family has the birth order perfect storm–three kids spaced close together, an oldest, a true middle child, (meaning he doesn’t have the novelty of being the first boy that might have off-set traditional middle child roles) and a baby of the family. Boy, boy, girl. Oldest, middle, baby.
I went on vacation with my textbook ordinal family last week. It’s been a long time since we all went away together for a week. Tim (the oldest) and Malynda’s car was packed to the gills with organic snack foods and groceries to share with the entire family. Their trunk held pricey fishing gear, lots of changes of clothes, and the rear of the car pulled 2 kayaks carefully secured on a trailer. Towels were folded neatly and shoes were stowed in bags. They arrived soon after my parents and had to chill outside until the house was unlocked. It was beach time!
The zippy black sports car doesn’t have a lot of cargo space, so Ben (middle born) called Tim (first born) and asked if he would bring his beach chairs for him. Ben and Kristi’s car was packed precisely, making full use of the little space given. There was fishing gear, a tent to set up on the beach, hair stuff (Kristi), lots of bathing suits, and beef jerky tucked within arm’s reach in the cupholders. These guys pulled up after dark because Kristi (first born of her family) had to work.
Last up is the baby mobile. Despite having 3x more people in our car, we brought the least amount of food. I had read my mom’s emails and my sister-in-laws’ texts. There was going to be PLENTY of good stuff to eat. I knew there was a washer and dryer there, my mom was bringing detergent, so I packed a half-week of clothes for everyone. Rather than buying groceries or packing gear, I shopped for things like Moana on DVD! Hot tomales! Boutique sunblock! And pop-its!–those tiny firecrackers that explode when you throw them at each other. Oh, and a present (a real one to go along with the sentimental one, see Chow Mein post) for my brother’s birthday. We arrived, a couple hours after check-in, shimmied into bathing suits, and ran to the beach. Riley (first born) unpacked the van.
Imagine the screen going blurry as we move into a flashback.
Ten years ago, I was the mother of an infant, and my oldest brother and future sister-in-law were getting married. I had beeen married for three and half years and was in the thick of transitioning from a working person to stay-at-home-mom. Back when I got married, my brothers gave Riley and me an incredible set of knives (thanks, boys!), so it was my intention to give Tim and Malynda a generous and useful gift. I left Baby Finn with my mom and headed to the mall with Ben. On the way, we joked about how couldn’t remember the last time we were in the car together in contrast to a few years before when it was every single day on the way to school.
We parked outside of Macy’s and went inside to buy “the gift.” I know there was online shopping ten years ago, but at that time, I would have only bought a gift online if it was headed out of town. My, how times have changed! We went to the shiny white kiosk to enter the groom’s name and print the registry. I am sure there were two thousand “Tim Miller”s in the system. We found the right Tim and hit print. The machine hummed to life and ejected enough pages to wallpaper a small home. We browsed the list but were pretty sure we wanted to buy the set of All-Clad pots and pans. If you watch cooking shows, or kill time in Williams Sonoma, you know All-Clad. I was excited. This is perfect! They will LOVE these! We made our way around the different displays, careful not step near the round tables with billowing table cloths, loaded with gaudy and breakable crystal. We held up a few things wondering who in their right mind would register for such tacky schlock.
Once we saw the pots, we were sold. This was the perfect gift. Above the pots was a clear sleeve holding a sign, “BONUS: GRILL PAN with every All-Clad purchase over $500.” Wow, well that’s pretty cool. We hoisted up the big box to look and see if the bonus was packed inside. We glanced around and under the display to try and find the grill pan then went over to the check out to ask the cashier. We were told they were in another section of the store and to go grab one, and it would be rung up separately. Now, things started brewing. Ben and I started talking about how awesome this grill pan was. Ben is an excellent griller; his eyes sparkled as he looked over the box. He wanted this grill pan. I could see it. Memory escapes me, and I don’t want to throw Ben under the bus, but one of us floated the idea of not including the BONUS pan with the gift. Ben, middle child that he is, thought this was a reasonable idea. I mean, it was extra and in a totally different section of the store. I added, maybe Tim and Malynda don’t even want the grill pan or know that this bonus promotion is even going on this week. Ben likes the pan, he wants the pan, we are spending the qualifying amount of money; I am totally on board with him having it. But I quickly call dibs on the metal skewers that are part of the set. It’s a deal! We are excited about the gift, excited about our freebies. It’s all good.
As it turns out, Tim and Malynda did know about the BONUS grill pan. And they did want one. Whoops. And a little further down the road, Ben would use that self same pan all the time when he moved in with Tim. Whoops. Tim is not a complainer, so it was years before I caught wind of the running joke between Ben and Tim about the grill pan. Tim and Malynda moved out of state, Ben got married, life went on. A few weeks ago we were eating pizza together when grilling came up. A sneaky, slow smile broke across Ben’s face as he said how much he LOVES his grill pan and that Tim and Malynda should totally buy one because he uses his all the time. We had gotten a decade long pass, but this time Tim called us out for stealing his grill pan. He was laughing about it, but he was totally right.
The oldest kid knows best but gets the shaft, has it flaunted in front of him for years, and just deals with it. The middle kid, sees something cool is a-ok with keeping it for himself, but is lighthearted about it nontheless, and the baby of the family doesn’t think twice about how other people might feel and is ready to get on to the party. Classic. Classic. Classic.
When it came time to buy Tim a 40th birthday gift, it had to be a grill pan. I mean it could’ve been a sweater, but it had to be a grill pan. I did my research and had Ben text me a picture of “his” grill pan. I told Riley the plan, and he thought it was a great idea. But then I started doing things like buying fun DVD’s for the car ride, and writing a blog about Tupperware, and it was nearly time to leave for the beach. Yeesh. I put the kids to bed and quickly logged onto Amazon. I paid expedited shipping so I would have the pan in time for the beach. The night before we left, I wrapped the pan in Christmas wrapping paper. I was ready to get to the party!