December 23, 2012

Ryan's World - Present Counting is Necessary

Unless you are in a family with an only child, there is always one member in the family that is exactly like me – a present counter. I’m sure it is part of the Middle Child Syndrome (MCS) that has afflicted me since the birth of my younger brother in 1971. (I can’t believe that after 41 years, someone hasn’t come up with a cure for this syndrome.) Before all of you “oldest children” get bossy and tell me to “get over it” or all of you “youngest children” go running to your mom and dad to tell on me, let me explain my thoughts on “present counting.”

Present counting is a necessity. After all, how can you take turns opening presents if the count is uneven? I felt it was my duty as a responsible middle child to make my parents aware of the differences, if there were any. A hint to young parents, especially those with a child suffering from MCS – It doesn’t matter how much the presents cost as long as they are evenly distributed.

It isn’t until later in life that we present counters begin to realize the presents our brothers or sisters received were not the same as ours. For example, at one time or another both of my brothers got train sets for Christmas. I never once received a train set while I was living at home and opening presents under the family Christmas Tree. It didn’t dawn on me until I was in my 20’s that I had always wanted one and never got one. One of the symptoms of MCS is the inability to keep from vocalizing our displeasure (I’m really making this stuff up, I don’t know if it is a symptom or not, but it should be). When I realized my parents’ error I let them know. I did not ask for them to purchase a train for me; instead, I went to the toy store and purchased my own. A few weeks later, I was at their house for Christmas and to my surprise there was a train set under the tree for me. I still have both trains, but I do treasure the one my mom and dad bought me the most, even though the one I bought was bigger.

Let me make this clear, while the middle child is most often the present counter it can also be a younger or older child. I only have two children and one of them is a present counter. My wife is not a present counter (she is the older, bossy child that is probably telling me to “get over it” about now), but she has had to deal with a present counter in her family. We are both well aware of the problems uneven present counts can cause. We painstakingly make sure they have the same number of presents under the tree and in the stocking. I am not opposed to wrapping socks or underwear individually to make the present count correct if we are short a present or two.

I would like to say that as you get older you no longer count presents, but I can’t. The good father that I am has emerged and I no longer count my presents, but I do count them for my children. I have learned to keep my mouth shut, but I’m always there to hug my present counting daughter if she feels like she has been slighted. My wife is there to tell her to “get over it.”

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