If you ask any of the other siblings what it's like for the youngest, they'll say that it's all sunshine and rainbows, because the youngest is allowed to get away with murder. Not quite.
Here are 15 life lessons the youngest child of every family has learned the hard way, and why we wouldn't trade it for anything:
1. We're the ultimate skeptics.
We grew up with our older siblings lying to us about almost everything that can be lied about. But you know what? There weren't monsters in the closet, the school janitor wasn't an escaped serial killer, and lights from airplanes aren't UFOs that want to take us back to the planet we really came from. Though there was a time when we believed all of those things and much more, we learned (sooner or later) not to believe everything we heard.
2. We have totally unique identities from our older siblings.
"Your older sister could play the violin and the flute by the time she was your age." "Your brother was a troublemaker when he was in my class. Are you going to be trouble, too?" We know what it's like to be judged based on our older siblings, and we. Did. Not. Like. It. In an effort to get out from the shadow of our brothers and sisters, we forged totally different personalities to minimize the amount of comparisons made.
3. Nobody does chores like us.
Remember when Tom Sawyer got all of his friends to whitewash the fence for him by bragging about how much fun it was, and then they started fighting over who got to do it? Yeah, that happened to us all the time. We got suckered and/or forced into washing dishes, mowing the lawn, and doing the worst chores that need to get done around the house. Cinderella is our spirit animal, and we know how to get the job done well.
4. We learned how to brush off struggles, because nobody cared about them anyway.
Growing up, our older siblings had already gone through every situation that was tough for us, so they didn't even care. They had already taken all of the exams, had all of the bad situations with friends, endured the super-mean 6th grade teacher from hell, and ultimately, they weren't that sympathetic about our problems.
5. We learn from the mistakes of others.
During the years of watching our older siblings try (and fail) to be sneaky as teenagers, we were taking notes. We learned what worked and what didn't, and this careful observation allowed us to be one step ahead. Unfortunately, this wasn't a perfect system, since our parents learned along the way, too.
6. We can find redeeming qualities in always being Player 2.
If you were allowed to play video games at all, you always had to be Player 2. This meant convincing yourself that Luigi didn't actually suck and it was actually less responsibility never having to pick the level or push any meaningful buttons.
If you need someone to look on the bright side of any terrible situation, find the youngest child of a family. We're just delusional enough to help.
7. We learned not to eat as much.
When it comes down to the last piece of chicken and it's between us and an older sibling, it's usually going to the older sibling. "They're bigger, they need more food!" No, it's cool. We weren't hungry anyway. (We were so hungry.)
8. We probably weren't actually the favorite child, though it sure did seem like it.
We were the last baby that our parents had, and yes, they might have gone overboard now and again in response to that fact. Part of why we got to do things that our older counterparts didn't was that when they were the only kids in the house, they were really small. By the time we were the only ones left in the nest, we were in high school and our parents had more time/energy/money to spend on us.
9. We know how to keep a secret.
"If you tell Mom and Dad about this, you'll regret it." Okie dokie, then. Guess we didn't tell Mom and Dad, lest we get locked into a closet for hours on end after school.
10. We really know how to advocate for ourselves.
If an older sibling had a bad experience with something, you can bet your bottom dollar that Mom & Dad weren't going to let you do it. This led to many hours planning presentations and arguments as to why our situation that is identical to our siblings is actually 100% different. It's amazing we didn't all turn out to be lawyers.
11. We were smarter than our classmates, thanks to our siblings.
Well, at least we felt like we were. Our older siblings taught us how to do fractions, write in cursive, and read books that were above our grade level way before our classmates did. This all went away, however, when our siblings didn't think it was fun to play school with us anymore.
12. Nothing beats the thrill of finally moving to the adult table at family gatherings.
There comes a moment in every youngest child's life when they graduate from eating Thanksgiving dinner at the rickety card table in the living room to sitting at the actual dining room table, and it is absolutely glorious. We spent years watching our older siblings get called up one by one over the years, and nothing makes a meal taste better than sitting on real furniture.
13. We weren't the biggest, so we had to become clever.
We were never going to tackle our older siblings in football or score on them in basketball. We were always too small to take them in a fight, so we had to use our heads if we were going to best our older siblings. We are the Tyrion Lannisters of the world, and have learned to be extremely clever and intuitive.
14. We can get along without apologies or compliments.
Though we desperately wanted them from our siblings, it wasn't going to happen. Eventually, we learned to live without.
15. We turned out just fine, thanks to our older siblings who we still look up to and love like crazy.
The only reason the youngest child annoys their older siblings is just because we look up to them so much. We always wanted to play with them, learn from them, and get their approval. We might not always express it enough, but we love our older siblings like crazy (and just want them to love to love us back.)
[Header image courtesy of the author]