There’s a phenomenon I’ve observed in first-borns like myself, people who gain siblings around the age of 1 or 2 or 3.*
We experience a fall from grace.
For a time, we are at the center of the universe, as evidenced by the fact that our parents’ lives revolve around us. They delight in taking care of us. The are always looking for novel ways to make us smile and giggle. We get 100% of the peekaboos, the lullabies, the goofiness, the spotlight. We experience undivided attention.
And then, it divides. We gain a sibling and lose the limelight.
One of my earliest memories is of sitting in the back seat of our Dodge as Dad pulled into the hospital entrance to pick up my mom, who had been gone a few days after getting quite fat. Dad was giddy to bring her home again, along with something called a “baby sister.” Now, Mom swears this didn’t happen, but in my memory she was wheeled to the car with a pink bundle — pink because IT WAS WRAPPED IN MY PINK BLANKIE!
Mom says of course she didn’t use my blankie to bring my sister home in; Sheri had received her own blankie. No matter. In my mind, I was already sharing with this alien. First my blankie, then my room, and in the blink of an eye I was no longer the center of the universe. I was now forever to share the mom and dad who had theretofore been mine-all-mine. My universe was permanently rent.
A few years later, Sheri and I ceased being enough for Mom and Dad, and Tami came along, further dividing my world. But by then I had the cognitive skills to also see the addition of the situation. As you know, my sisters are among my greatest treasures.
* After age 3 or so, children are able to deal with the feelings of the fall from grace more rationally, using their advancing cognitive skills (as my husband did when his younger sister came into the picture when he was 5). But prior to that, it’s a sheer emotional experience, sans reasoning. You just know that you’ve always been 100% and suddenly, you sense you’re only half that.
Periodically I’m adding to my Off the Beaten Path playlist made just for you, reminiscent of the days when you’d painstakingly record songs from the radio onto a cassette for an important person in your life.
The way you are in mine.
Last month we were in the 1960s with the Mamas & the Papas and a little cover ditty from moi. This time I share with you a song from the 1970s, Andrew Gold’s Lonely Boy, that acknowledges one young man’s fall from grace.
What do you think of this Fall from Grace theory?
And just for good measure, I’m adding in another song that my dad used to listen to in the 1970s. Loudly. The chords are simple and the lyrics are rudimentary, and Beautiful Sunday works because it reminds me of a simple, carefree, happy day growing up, hanging out with my parents and sisters.