My Hammy Vice
Don't worry, I'm smiling on the inside. Really.
And by "not great," I mean "I'm still stiff from all the years I spent in a fetal position."
And I haven’t even shared the time when a teacher asked my sister to draw a picture of her family. Which she did — with flourish. She came home proudly displaying this work of art — a piece that included a full-color Daddy with a huge smile on his face, followed by a Mommy in brilliant color and also looking elated. She (the oldest child) came after that, also happy and in vibrant color. After that, in the place where I should have been, was our cat, Henry. Then it was my turn to be represented — as a tiny solid brown figure in all brown clothing with no facial expressions. (Here is where I insert the family joke, "What grade was she in when she did this? And I reply, "She was a sophomore in college." And then we all laugh like it is the first time we have heard this.)
To this day, I believe unequivocally that I could simply walk into a psychiatrist’s office, hand over the drawing, and be diagnosed and on my way before you could say “inferiority complex."
I'm kidding, of course. But let’s face it, when you’re the second kid, your parents have already experienced all the “firsts” and, frankly, the novelty has kind of worn off by the time you make your entrance. Especially when that entrance is a mere 13 months after your older sibling’s. I’m guessing this is why my sister has a completed baby book and memories of my parents weeping as they drove away after getting her settled into her college dorm. By the time I went to college the next year, my parents were so looking forward to having the house to themselves they barely slowed down when dropping me off at college. It really wasn’t all bad. I was a very shy kid and all the focus on my sister kept the focus off me, along with a lot of pressure.
In my own brown, expressionless way, I actually appreciated being overlooked occasionally.
During junior high, my best friend (who was also a second child) spent the night at our house one weekend, and I remember thinking how refreshing it was to talk to someone in the same position who could totally relate. At least until I fell asleep early and my parents took my sister and her out for breakfast at 1 a.m., leaving me asleep and utterly alone at home, conveniently forgetting that it would have been fairly easy to wake me to join in the fun and not risk having me wake up in a dark house feeling like I was living a Stephen King novel.
This upset me way less than you might think because I am nothing if not a realist. It may have been hard to compete for attention with my sister growing up, but it was impossible to compete with Moons over My Hammy.