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Scrapping for Position and Other True Kid Stories

January 22, 2022

Another Way for week of January 14, 2021

Scrapping for Position and Other True Kid Stories

It’s not every day that your three-year-old grandson writes your column for you.

First of all, I identify with him as the third child in my family—of the same gender: I was the third girl. He was the third boy in his family. We also had three daughters, so our youngest daughter also knows a little about disappointing parents just a smidge by not coming through as a child of a differing gender.

We loved our family of three little ones but a parent has only two sides to their body. Someone is left out in that savored seat next to a parent, especially after they are all a bit too big to be lap-sitters.

The other evening my daughter’s youngest boy, Edward, was edging for his share of the space and declared to an older brother, “Henry! Give me persomal [sic] space!” (That’s the way this three-year-old pronounced “personal.” They’ve been talking about it in his preschool.)

His momma said, “He was pushing his way onto my lap. It was ‘vintage Doreen’ scrapping for position.” Doreen is our third daughter.

Actually, I don’t remember feeling or wishing I could be the oldest. There’s a lot of pressure on the oldest to do well, to excel, to pave the way.

Two years ago I put together a booklet of stories just for my grandsons, reminding them that once upon a time their mommies were little too.

And sometimes, wonderful things happen. Like the time our oldest, Michelle was supposed to go to a fancy banquet with mommy. She was excited to be so grown up! We stayed in a hotel in a city two hours away, with a bunch of other women. When Michelle was getting dressed for the banquet, she discovered I’d mistakenly packed an outgrown pair of dress shoes she had recently handed down to her sister.

Michelle bravely tried to pinch her feet into the “Sunday shoes.” I told her she’d just have to wear them anyway. She pushed the shoes on and limped to the bathroom. They really hurt. She looked sad. I felt like Michelle was one of Cinderella’s stepsisters, and I was the evil step-mother. “Oh well,” I finally said. “Just wear your old tennis shoes.” We had a marvelous time at the grown-up party and when I apologized to our tablemates, one woman said “I’m sure her feet are more comfortable than mine!”

One year, our church decided to send children to summer camp. Our middle daughter Tanya’s turn came first—she was only seven years old. An overnight camp all by herself! We were a little worried but tried not to show it. Would Tanya be ok? Would she cry?

Then Tanya told us she didn’t want to go after all. I said something like, “That’s natural. Everyone is afraid of doing something the first time.” But I worried. Would she make friends?

Then I reminded her, “When you come home, you’ll be the first in our family to go to camp and tell your older sister all about it!”

Tanya made new friends and for once she got to do something before her big sister.

Finally, a story about our youngest. Her big sisters already went to real school in second grade and kindergarten. Sometimes it wasn’t fun to be the last born in the family, but she really dreaded being the last one picked up at nursery school. One day she reminded me, “Remember, I don’t want to be picked up last today!”

That day at work I was very very busy. Suddenly I looked at the clock. Ten minutes ‘til 12.

Would I make it? I drove as fast as I could (under speed limit) and got there with three minutes to spare. There in the back of the room were a couple children still putting on coats and hats. Doreen was by herself, looking very lonely. Then Doreen’s face lit up when she saw me. Oh was she ever happy.

As we make space for others in our lives, remember everyone wants to feel special, wanted, loved.

Have you felt squeezed out by others? At home, school, church, community?


I’d love to hear your kid stories!

Comment here or send to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. Silver, Beverly P - silverbp permalink

    Hi Melodie, Thanks for this most recent entry in your blog. I am forwarding it on to several people. The photos of the girls way back then – are beautiful! If you want
    Gingers email address let me know, I have it. Also I hope Pat Churchman reads you blog too. I am also going to send it on to Stin! Thanks, Beverly

  2. Thank you, Beverly, for keeping in touch with some far flung Trinity folks! Sure, send me Ginger’s email. Yes, I think Pat C. often reads the blog. Have a nice Sunday!

  3. Growing up, and even now, I fit the profile of the oldest child and the oldest of three sisters. My youngest sister complains that she has felt left out from the beginning. It’s sort of true. Mom had her hands full with 3 children 5 and under and pointed the camera less often in her direction. When we divvied out photos there were a scarcity of baby and child photos for sister # 3. When I find some of her in my stack, I make sure she gets them.

    Once in a fuzzy photo of me with my dad on the tractor, sister Jean is there in the background, which Cliff found when he photoshopped the picture, which “drew her out.” I was happy to hand the original to her.

    As to your last question: I make friends easily and do so online and in face-to-face interactions. I have lots of virtual friends and long-time friendships before social media. However, sometimes I feel left out if those in my circle of local friends have less education or fewer accomplishments. It doesn’t make a bit of difference to me, but apparently it does to them. The upshot: I feel left out of the loop with news and family updates sometimes. I wonder if others have had the same experience. (It could be too that I’m attaching the wrong conclusion to the cause.)

    Your photos are priceless and serve your post perfectly. 😀

  4. I forget that you’re the oldest of 3 sisters, thanks for reminding us. We (Stuart and I) seem to have done ok in the photo department in terms of what photos we have available of each of our daughters. But yes, wow, the picture piles when we sorted such recently among my sisters and brother were decidedly tipped in the three girls department, and not much for my youngest sibling/brother. It seems like the cameras got put away even though we all adored him and made him our “baby” — smothering him with kisses (which he grew to hate), and mothering. 🙂 He doesn’t resent it at all, I think he finds it amusing.

    We truly have a mix of friends–although we lament when it seems like of the friends our ages, we all have less time for one another and grow to have less in common than when we were younger. ?? Does that make sense? For example, if we’re trying to plan a get together, our friends and siblings have their schedules complicated with their kids and grandkids schedules and birthdays and it is harder to find space on our calendars for each other. (And now, of course, covid complications.)

    Nice checking in with you– one of the most faithful online friends that can be found!

  5. I had to see the post that your grandson wrote. Did he inspire you with his positioning maneuvers or with the booklet of stories? That is an amazing set of illustrations. Did you take the pictures in order to illustrate the story?

    I have three grandchildren. The younger two are girls. A few years ago, they fought each other over my lap. Now they seem to have grown out of that stage. The oldest, Owen, is getting too big, but I find ways to embrace him anyway. We firstborns understand each other, just like thirdborns. 🙂

    • I loved the story his mother told about his pushing for position, and felt it would make a fun, easy column/blog post for me. But I needed more stories, and the other stories were some I had used in one of my books about parenting. I dug up the pictures from years ago to illustrate the story–the same illustrations I used in the quick computer book I compiled and sent them about 2 years ago. Putting that book together of stories about their moms, and the pictures–was prompted by my oldest grandson’s question to his mom one day, about “what did you do when you were little?” So … when the kids or grandkids give me ideas, I say they wrote the column for me. But not literally. Yet. But one of these days I think I’ll ask the older ones if they want to write a piece for the column (and pay them.) They are teaching kids surprisingly detailed writing these days–and even how to edit themselves to make things better! 🙂 You’ve probably seen it too.

      Thanks for your stories, Shirley, and am looking forward to reading the book on grandparenting!

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