By the Rules

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” –John Wooden (basketball player and UCLA coach with ten national championships).

This past weekend, Mel and I went down to Chattanooga to have Christmas with my son (and maybe to make a stop at Expedition Bigfoot–the world’s largest Bigfoot museum. More on that later). I hadn’t seen Mike in ten months, and that’s not good for this mamma’s heart. I need to see my kids more often. Social media helps but my son and I are introverts. We’d rather sit in a room, enjoying each other’s company in silence, than create small talk, as you must do over the phone or Skype. It also doesn’t offer the same level of satisfaction as wrapping him in a hug and seeing for myself that he’s happy and doing well.

He’s happy and doing  well.

We exchanged our Christmas gifts. Wrapped neatly in black tissue paper and placed in a black envelope was my gift from Mike. Here is what he made for me:

Gift from Mike
by Mike Ayers @sheepishmike on Instagram

I love flowers, fish, and birds (not sure he’s aware that blue is my favorite color, but good job, Mikey). I appreciate the fact he used his unique style to create a piece I’ll enjoy. Interestingly, I see a lot of his style (the lines and flow) in the way my dad used to draw and paint. Mike never met my dad.










As many of you know Mel also  inherited a few artistic skills. I think I may have already shared that she made this for me for Christmas. The dragon is inspired by the lotus flower, which is my favorite.


Lotus Leopard Wyvern in frame
by Mel Ayers @melcabre2 on Instagram

Watching the talents of these two blossom and mature has been, and continues to be, an amazing gift.

But I have another son who is equally talented. He’s the middle child. The one for whom all the rules were established. “Adam, quiet down!” “Adam, don’t jump!” “Adam, be careful!” He has also carried the role of comedian, peacekeeper, and accommodator.

He’s the one who lightens a heavy mood and brings reason to a conversation, he’s respectful yet blunt. And he’s also talented.

Last year, Adam graduated from the university with a major in finance and now works in accounting.  Back in grade school, he was identified as gifted in Math. While Mel was taking private art lessons, Adam was attending Math camp at one of the universities.

Adam is also practical. For Christmas, he gave me exactly what I asked for–a smoke/carbon monoxide detector. I love it! It went up on the wall faster than either of the pictures. I love the practical gift as much as the creative one because he put thought and consideration into it. But could my kids be more opposite?

I love this quote about the oldest, middle, and youngest children. It’s true in so many ways.

Oldest Child–“I make the rules.”

Like the time Adam and Mel decided to build a fire outside in the yard. Thankfully, Mike doused it with a bucket of water.

Middle Child–“I’m the reason we have rules.”

Like the time Adam convinced Mel to put blue food coloring in her toothpaste right before they went to a friend’s house.

Youngest Child–“The rules don’t apply to me.”

All I can say is it’s the boys’ fault, especially Adam. They gave Mel everything she wanted, and then when she wanted everything, they didn’t like it.

Isn’t the way DNA blends to create such unique individuals fascinating? Not to mention the way social dynamics influence character and behavior…. Creative vs. practical.  Oldest, middle, or youngest. Does it matter?

As parents, one of our greatest challenges is to teach our kids to utilize their strengths and weaknesses despite their lineup in the household, then, when life gets hard, (or you’re separated for an extended period), you can rest in the knowledge that  you prepared them to face life’s challenges by focusing on what they can do and not what they cannot do.

Are you the youngest, middle, or oldest child? Does the above scenario ring true for you or your kids?

Are you a practical or creative gift giver?

Thanks for reading. I hope you have a great day!



2 thoughts on “By the Rules”

  1. I’m the oldest of 5. My hubby is the oldest of two, and we have a single child. Birth-order psychology is something I find more fascinating than Meyers-Briggs-type psychology and I’ve read several books by Dr. Kevin Leman about it. He writes in a very conversational, engaging style – you should check out “The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are” sometime!


    1. Sounds like a great book. Thanks for the recommendation. For me personally, there’s the complication of step and half siblings on both sides of my family. Another dynamic to all of the psychology!


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