Family Pecking Order

I have worked in a variety of places and jobs over my lifetime. I have done the corporate “dance”. I found it to be a strange and alarming place! I felt like a punching back that would get hit from all sides all day long, every day.

I have also worked in mom and pop shops. The “mom and pop” places are great, but then you have to deal with mom and/or pop. This can mean small disagreements over work schedules, service or customer complaints. You also have to deal with the family drama! Not something to look forward too.

When I met my husband, he was working with his family in a business. So, on top of work issues, you had the family drama issues. My husband told me a work story about his brother acting out while working with the family. Apparently, his brother started something of an issue with the owner, also known as their step-dad, that caused my husband to chase his brother outside the work building with the full intent to “whip his ass.”

In the chase, they slid down some stairs and fists were thrown. There is no real evidence of who won. My husband is the older of the two, but they were close in size. Legend has it the younger one did get away, but not without my husband landing a few “educational punches” to teach him some respect. My husband and his brother have a very different work ethic.

This means a few punches were landed to educate said brother on his inadequacies with showing respect to the step-father. It was also a lesson in how to more effectively communicate between brothers. I did not realize fists were a source of communication, but I have no siblings to know that is how it is between brothers.

For the Southerns – Younger brother got his ass beat down and had to show respect. Ya’ll know what I’m sayin’.

After the scuffle, no one dared breathed a word about the incident. Everyone acted like it did not happen.

Jump ahead 3 months later at a family gathering. Once a sufficient and/or copious amounts beer and food were consumed, someone decided they needed to revisit the previous beat down between brothers. As I was not present for the initial “educational ass whippin'”, I was eager to hear the story. I grew up without siblings, but my husband is one of five children. This affords me a litany of old family stories and new family drama between siblings.

Unfortunately, it was anti-climactic. The boys got started, then my mother in law came in and shut it down.  Even though I was eager to get the juicy details from all parties involved, my mother in law was “the law”. Once my mother in law said the conversation was over, all the guys hung their heads and slithered off to get another beer. I think I saw my mother in law criss cross her hands and shake off the situation like Merlin the Magician.

The entire point of telling this story is twofold.

First, Southern mom’s do not care what the fight is about among boys. Their job is to shut it down as soon as possible. Southern grandmas and moms are the gospel. If you want to go up against one, you’d better dig two graves. Translation, you will lose, and no one will help you. No one wants to go up against granny or mama. If someone tries to help you go up against granny or mama, the rest of the family will roll your dumbass into one grave and the dumb-ass who may have tired to help you into the other grave. Then mama or granny will saunter away while the rest of the family shovels the dirt.

Two, the whole fight was stupid to begin with at the start. The entire argument was over power and family position. Little brother is in the “pecking order” and decided to challenge this said order. That was a mistake. Whether he thinks he was right or wrong, he was wrong!

In the South, you are born in an “order”. I realize that every kid is born in an order, but it is different in the South.

When you are first born, you are the ruler/king/boss/the unchallenged/the shit. Everyone one born after the first born is a serf/servant to the oldest. If you challenge your position, you may get an ass whippin’ from the eldest. This continues into adulthood, as evidenced by my story.

So, if you are not the oldest, start saving your money for therapy for later. You will have to bide your time until you can surpass your older sibling, in your mind only. To the parents and the other siblings, you will never “best” the oldest. It does not matter how much you accomplish in life, power, money or  fame. When you come home, you are still not the oldest.

FYI, if you are a girl, none of this applies to you!

For girls, daddies will over ride granny’s and mom’s alike. Daddies give girls free reign, right up until they have visible boobies and start their period. Then it is back to mom. At this point, daddies are grossed out and all they say to questions is, “Hummmpf” or “Go ask your mother.”

During teenager years for girls, daddies are in the garage cleaning their guns and laying land mines in the front yard. My dad would also spend time doing his “mean, daddy face” in the mirror before my date would come to the door and pick me up. My Dad always said if my date cannot come to the door to pick you up, then he is leaving by himself! There was no reasoning with my Dad on this rule.

So, girls, don’t piss off your mom. You will need her one day. Besides, she will teach you the granny and mom tricks for shutting down the boy scuffles! It is an art form and requires training and confidence.

If you are the first born, remember you have a power over the younger ones, so have a heart and let your younger siblings win once in a while.

If you are not the first born, then that is just going to suck for you forever. Just get used to it and save money for therapy.

If you are the oldest and a girl, jackpot! First, you are the oldest in the pecking order. Second, whenever you get in a scuffle with mom, you can plead your case to Dad to offer assistance in dealing with mom. Sometimes this softens the punishment. Dads will just let the boys suffer.

If you do not believe in the “pecking order”, I can prove that I am correct.

Locate as many family photo albums as you can find. Count the number of pictures of the first born there are in the albums. Then count the number of photos for each subsequent sibling. I will bet there are at least twice as many photos of the first born than any other child in the family. Sorry kids, it is true!

There is a bright side to not being the oldest. The oldest has to “break in the parents”. By this I mean, the oldest is usually punished more often and more severely than younger siblings. The oldest has more expectations placed on them by parents. By the time the next kid bounces out, the parents have spent all their energy scolding the older one. This means that the younger ones can get away with more.

According to my husband, the other bummer to being the oldest was that you were now a full time baby sitter without pay. My husband was the oldest of five and he said he changed diapers every day until the fifth child was potty trained. It did not stop there.

My husband was the in-house baby sitter and kid police for his four younger siblings. I can not count how many fun and interesting thing my husband missed in order to care for his siblings.

So, younger siblings, remember that you will get to go to all the birthday parties, sleep overs and sporting events you would like to attend. Just remember, the oldest will be at home taking care of the other kids!

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