On the whole generalizations stink. However, yesterday I made a my earth shattering discovery. Stand by to be astounded: Generalizations (a bit like cliches) do serve a purpose. Don’t raise an eyebrow. They do they do they do [serve a purpose]. Namely that they simplify things.
Why this hadn’t occurred to me earlier I don’t know. I suppose some of the best is left to last.
Yes, sigh, so there I was watching an astonishing family drama unfolding. On screen. I have always known about family dynamics but this was a bit like rinsing my contact lenses/glasses to see more clearly. I haven’t got the faintest idea what the hell is going on.
There are six characters. A mother and a father, and four siblings – three brothers, one sister. Which, I suppose, is worse (for the boys) than being one brother (like my own) among three sisters. The bit that kept and keeps confusing me is that I continually mistake the second son for the eldest. Why? Because – remember we are talking about generalizing/stereotypes – in this epic the eldest is the bad boy, the black sheep. Whilst number two is the good guy, the responsible one, you get the drift. It’s the wrong way round. Naturally, the youngest is a total emotional pain in the proverbial – but that’s what you expect of the youngest. No surprises there.
So, yes, my world is now slightly topsy turvy, having to pinch myself to remind myself who is who in the sequence of siblings. I don’t know what your assorted experiences are, either within your family of origin or the family you have created yourself. Please do let me know if you can stomach it.
In terms of how far psychology can throw its stone and cast its shadow I am BOTH, hallelujah, an only (because I am quite a bit older than my siblings) AND an eldest (with all that entails – remember, the subject is generalization/stereotypes) so I have, literally, had the best of both worlds. I don’t say this lightly not least because it reflects on me if after my own experience of family and observing those of others there are only two things to be: The one and only, or the eldest. I am so grateful I dare hardly to whisper it.
Slaughter me. Little more damage can be done than the havoc my siblings have (in recent years) created. I am the eldest – my mother’s words to that effect ring in my ear and to this day she expects me to be the peace maker – and, by nature, I am [the peace maker], but you can only make as much peace as the other players allow. My youngest sister, again playing to stereotype, recently confided in me that she always felt she was looked upon as totally incompetent. Really? Well, I never. Can’t believe it. We used to call her the “Professor” when she was barely big enough to sit on a swing. She had that deep thoughtful look. Not, of course, that a frown makes for intelligence.
My other sister? The long awaited and so eagerly greeted by me first sibling? She fits the stereotype of the second child so perfectly it’s painful. It took decades for her to reveal how much she resents me. Mind you, that’s nothing compared to the fact that she (earth mother) left her family, a husband who loves her and a bewildered herd of children (she wanted) in their teens a couple of years ago. But (I suppose) that’s what seconds do. Self destruct. So, yes, back to my watching of aforementioned TV drama, I am confused. That set of siblings does not play by the “natural” order of things.
In case you are wondering about my brother (number three). He keeps well out of everything. To the extent that he appears (note APPEARS) – but isn’t – totally aloof to conflict. His wife of over twenty years, one of the many women who adore him, asked me the other day about my take on her husband’s inner workings. Well, what can I say? Obviously by the time he hit his teenage years I’d already left home so I wasn’t privy to all that happened. All I know that he is one of those affable people who avoid conflict at all cost and, in my opinion grow an inner crust. Let’s just hope he won’t implode.
So, my dear readers, having laid a significant part of my life open please do let me know where you are in the order of siblings or if, like my brother, you’d rather not be too close up and personal tell me what you think about my theory on generalizations. Namely that they simplify.