Is Gemma-Rose spoilt? If you missed this story first time around, I'd love you to share a slightly reworked version now...

The skirt arrived in the post and I handed it to a very excited girl who ran off to try it on. A few minutes later, Gemma-Rose came back dressed in the new garment.

“Why are you hanging onto the skirt?” I asked.

Gemma-Rose let go of the folds of fabric she was clutching, and the skirt slipped from her waist and fell to the floor. She stood there, her undies exposed, and giggled, “It’s a bit big!”

“It's your size… at least it’s the size for your age,” I replied, giggling too.

“If she ate her dinners like everyone else, she’d grow,” observed Imogen. “You always used to make us eat our meals. We had to sit at the table until we’d finished. Gemma-Rose is spoilt!”

Yes, I remembered the daily meal time struggles. Me against a stubborn child who would clamp her mouth shut and refuse to listen to my entreaties. She’d rather starve than let one mouthful of a meal, she didn't like the look of, pass her lips. Had I become soft? Had I given in? Was I spoiling Gemma-Rose or had I just become wiser with experience?

There is no doubt Gemma-Rose is spoilt….with love. She has lots of older brothers and sisters who adore her. We all enjoy the youngest member of the family. She does get a lot of attention.

On the other hand, she rarely gets away with any mischief. All those older brothers and sisters are good at keeping her in line. They make sure she does her chores and doesn’t show off (too much) and behaves herself.

When I was a child, I always thought my youngest sister had the privileged position in the family. “She’s spoilt!” I’d think in envy. I was certain the baby of our family had a much easier life than me. As an adult, I still believed she had an advantage. Who reached the wrinkle and ageing stage first? It certainly wasn't my sister.

The other week, I visited an older parishioner called Jane. Jane was telling me about her family. “I’m the youngest of 11 children,” she said. “The sister just above me never forgave me for being born. She wanted to continue being the baby of the family.”

Jane is almost 80 years old. All her family have died, except for the sister who had wanted to be the baby, and a sister-in-law. Despite being an old woman herself, Jane spends her time looking after these two remaining members of her family.

My visit to Jane made me think again about what it's really like being the youngest child. Perhaps being at the bottom of the family isn’t as great as it sounds.

When Felicity - our eldest child - was growing up, our family was increasing in size. She experienced the delights of being sister to new babies. She had lots of brothers and sisters to share her days with. Gemma-Rose, on the other hand, is growing up in a family that will inevitable become smaller and smaller as time goes by. One day, she will be the only child at home, a lonely situation. One day, she may be the only member of the family still alive. That will be even lonelier.

Looking at Jane, it is difficult to imagine she was ever the spoilt baby of the family, the baby her sister envied. There is no one left to spoil her. These days Jane attends funerals, visits the cemetery, prays for the deceased members of her family and looks after her older and more feeble sister and sister-in-law.

Is this what is in store for Gemma-Rose? Will she end up looking after all her siblings? One day, will she be alone?

Perhaps we should 'spoil' her now while we have the chance. Show her lots of love and attention without worrying about it. Although it's seems hard to imagine, Gemma-Rose's privileged position won’t last forever.

Readers come and go, and perhaps there are some people who've never read some of my earlier stories. So... I thought I might post a few second-hand stories, every now and then.

If you blog, how about sharing some of your old posts too? I'd love to dip into your archive and enjoy some of your favourite posts. If you do, I'll come and visit and stop to say hello.

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  1. This is a very touching post. Wow. I am a new follower, thank you for commenting on my article over at CMO. I will be back to visit you. I've not been blogging much because of the holidays, but I am glad I found you, lovely blog!

  2. Thank you, Lily. You are very kind. It was a pleasure to comment on your very thought provoking article over at CMO. You've made me feel so good today!

  3. I am an eldest child. I have envied the "baby" position of my youngest sister, and have wondered too, if I spoil my youngest child. I have often felt that being the oldest was the "hardest" position, but I have also found it to be the most (to me) enjoyable. I have also considered that our middle sister was luckiest... she and I grew up together... but after I moved out and our mom had our youngest sister... she was still at home and was able to enjoy living and growing with her too.. so she got to live with both of us. I never got to live with our youngest sister. I missed that. So my two younger sisters have a relationship with each other that I missed out on with the youngest. And though we do love each other, she see's me rather as another version of our mom instead of just her eldest sister. Whereas our middle sister is my SISTER, completely, and we are sister-close.

    I had never thought to myself that possibly one day myself and our middle sister may be dead and gone, and only our youngest sister left, and how she would miss us. Being the youngest doesn't sound to good now. I'd never looked at it that way. Perhaps that's why the youngest always seem to be spoiled so much. That one day when they're the one left, they'll have all those happy memories knowing how much they were loved, babied, and protected...

    We all have our place in the "pecking order". I guess none of those places are perfect.

    1. Susan,

      I am an oldest child too. When I was a younger I didn't like being in this position. But as an adult I am quite happy, apart from the fact I am the first sister experiencing wrinkles! Where we are in the family order really does affect our personality, and as you say, none of the positions is perfect.

      I'd never considered the downside of being the youngest either, until I met Jane. She made me think.

      There's spoiling and spoiling. Spoil Robyn with love while you can! Amy too.

  4. Hmmm...that would be hard to outlive all of your siblings. If you're spouse and children are still living that's crucial. It would be daunting to grow old by yourself. Gemma-Rose is not spoilt. Just loved unconditionally! God bless.

    1. Noreen,

      Yes, it would be so much easier to outlive siblings if you were surrounded by your own children and husband. That is such a good point. Unfortunately Jane's husband died a few years ago. I know she sees her children but they don't all live near her, though I am sure they are a great comfort to her. I just got the impression that Jane's siblings were very important to her and she felt their absence very much. I think it would be very special if my children maintained their family bonds once they grew up. I know not all siblings stay close once they are adults.

      I've just remembered... Jane's sister and sister-in-law have no family except for Jane. She really does have to take on the role as carer for her siblings.

      Loving unconditionally... we can never love too much. So glad you agree!

      Thank you for stopping by.

      God bless!

  5. I am the eldest and have to admit I was slightly spoilt, as I am the only girl. My Mum has always said "there's no such thing as a spoilt child, only a well-loved one". Those younger brother did get away with so much more than I though ;)

    1. Lisa,

      I am an eldest child too. I always thought my younger sisters got away with too much. I guess it's important to give each child what they need (which isn't always the same things) and not to play favourites, and love everyone unconditionally. We can't spoil by loving too much.

      "there's no such thing as a spoilt child, only a well-loved one". I like your mother's words!

      God bless!

  6. Sue, what interesting insights you always have! I'm the middle child of three, and my younger sister was definitely spoiled...and she still sort of expects to be :) My older sister was seven years older than me, jealous when I came along, but thrilled with the "baby" of the family. It was hard being in the middle, but I think it made me more independent. It did hurt that my older sister resented rather than welcomed me. My "little" sister and I are three years apart, and became best friends as we grew up. I still watch her struggle for attention, even as an adult. So, I guess God plans what is best for each of us when He chooses where in a family He will place us.

    Looking at that adorable face at the top of your post, I don't think it would be possible NOT to spoil Gemma-Rose! :) Love and blessings to you..

    1. Patricia,

      I don't think I would ever have thought about the dilemma of being an older age youngest sibling if I hadn't had that conversation with Jane. We tend to see the world only through our own eyes. I'm an eldest sibling so I understand the problems of having to be the responsible child of the family. I always felt my younger siblings got away with far more than I ever did.

      It is interesting what you said about being the middle sibling. I wonder if my own middle sibling ever found it difficult not having the attention of being either the eldest or the youngest. She always seemed confident and sure of herself though. My Charlotte is a middle sister and she says she likes having both older and younger siblings. I try not to let her disappear in the crowd, if you know what I mean.

      God does place us in a certain position in a family and it does affect who we are. I do think though that parents can make those places even more perfect by how they treat their children. There is no doubt that some younger children get away with too much and never have to face responsibility. And maybe older children can lord it over their younger siblings and boss them about. I wasn't allowed to do this! "You must be nice to your sisters. They are only little." I still remember these words. I wondered when they'd stop being 'little' and start to grow up!

      Gemma-Rose knows exactly how to influence her siblings with a charming smile.. and her mother! We have to be tough! I don't think she is doing too badly though.

      I've been wondering if you went on your 4 day retreat, Patricia. Maybe you've just returned. I'll have to pop over to your blog and continue the conversation!

      God bless and love to you too.

    2. Hi Sue, I sort of ended up with about half of a retreat, but am so grateful that I made the effort to go. I got there late Friday afternoon, instead of Thursday, so I lost a full night and a full day. I was so tired that I spent a couple of hours napping Saturday afternoon. But, with the chapel two minutes away from my room, it was still heaven to be there :) And the silence! So wonderful when you are free not to make conversation, and so focus only on God. I'm sure you know what I mean. I always think: No wonder those cloistered nuns are so holy...they live this way all the time.

      Right now, I'm going through my retreat withdrawals...back to the real world. It's always such an adjustment. Sometimes more than others..depending on how the Lord arranges things.

      I think it may be different to be in a large family..where you aren't the "only" older,middle,younger. My older sister had been the only child until I came along seven years later. I'm sure it was hard for her to share the attention, and it was very painful for me to be rejected, because I looked up to her so much. It's still a wound in my heart..especially that she then adored my younger sister. We have never been close. But, my younger sister and I have so much in common, and have always been best friends.

      I imagine it might be interesting if there are only two children. Do they compete with each other for attention, or band together as a unit :) And, in a large family, the middle child will have other "middles" to share with, and maybe not feel somehow lost between the older and the younger.

      I agree with you about parents playing a big part in the outcome, if they are aware as you are about the situation. In the end, I'm just glad God is the One who has to work all this out! Won't it be interesting in Heaven to at last understand all the different facets of our lives...why God chose each of them for us?

      Can't wait to see what you will write about next :) Hugs...xoxo

    3. Patricia,

      Maybe half a retreat was all you were meant to have after your recent illness. Going away, even to a retreat, is very tiring. I'm glad you were able to go even for a couple of days.

      I haven't been on a silent retreat for a long time. I remember the last time... I took Gemma-Rose. She was about 12 months old and she couldn't understand why no one would speak to her. I spent three days trying to keep her quiet so she didn't disturb the peace of the other people there. I didn't find it a very refreshing retreat at all!

      Your ponderings on families with two children is very interesting! Competing or banding together? I wonder... I grew up with two younger sisters. My brother was born after I left home. Felicity left home when Gemma-Rose was only one. Sad they never experienced spending time in the same home for very long. They don't share any growing up memories.

      What will I write about next? It seems a long time since I wrote a post on this blog. It's the start of the new school year here, and I've been writing over on my unschooling blog instead. But I have an idea for another post about fathers, sons and cars. I hope to write it tomorrow!

      with love xx

  7. She is indeed beautiful! And you are right - it won't last forever. They grow up much, much too fast!

  8. Dana,

    Thank you! Little girls are so appealing, aren't they? I'm sure you have beautiful memories of your own daughter when she was the same age as Gemma-Rose. Yes, children grow up much too fast. They change very quickly but they are still so precious whatever their age.

    Thank you do much for visiting my blog and stopping to say hello. I know how busy you have been recently.

    God bless!


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