I grew up as the oldest of five children and then, as only karma can dictate, went on to raise five of my own. As the oldest I probably had the lions’ share of attention, since I was usually the first to do something (walking, talking, stealing cigarettes). Getting Mom’s individual attention was rare and certainly worth gloating over to my siblings - at this very minute, for JUST this minute, she’s all mine!
My Mom rarely spent time chatting on the phone. Evenings were reserved for dinner, homework and baths, usually en mass. But when she pulled up a stool next to the phone and sat down, we knew she wasn’t going to be moving for a while. Whoever got there first usually got to sit on or near her, where she would absentmindedly stroke our hair as she gossiped on. Pure bliss!
My own children, I hope, had a little more individual attention, from both Mom and Dad. Traveling to and fro - sports, school, church - we made a point to turn the radio off (no rear tv, headphones or ipods to distract!) and to clearly state, whatever you have to say is way more important than that silly radio. Many a great conversation took place from the darkness and safety of the back seat.
When the youngest arrived ten years after the next oldest, he had to find another way to command attention, competing against the clamor and excitement of the teenagers. As a toddler, he would literally throw himself at Mom’s legs - hey, don’t forget I’m down here! I would say, “what’s the matter; you need a little attention?” and then scoop him up. He quickly figured out that if you asked for it, you got it. Today, this way taller than me young man still sidles up to me from time to time - when he wants to talk, or when he just needs a hug - to say, “I need some attention” - our private way of connecting 18 years later.