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Open Letter to Youngest Children Everywhere

Photograph by Getty Images

Dear Youngest Child,

“It’s not fair!” you cry and you whine and you pout. “I never get anything new!” For the youngest kid in families everywhere, it’s a common refrain. Everything you have—your bikes, your toys and your clothes—once belonged to someone else. You complain about the indignity of wearing faded jeans and holey underwear, and I sympathize … I really do.

But you know what? You don’t know how good you have it.

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That’s right. Compared to the hothouse flower first-borns and the ignored middle children, you youngest kids have it made. Sure, your tricycles might be dented and your shoes might be scuffed, but what you lack in material things, you gain in street smarts and benign neglect.

Consider your older siblings: If they are anything like my first born, they played only with chunky toddler-safe toys and watched nothing but "Caillou" until they went to Kindergarten. We parents hovered over them as they learned to walk, attempted to ride a bike without training wheels, and went on their first play dates.

You will take the world by storm. And that’s even better than a shiny new bike.

Compare that to your life: You were allowed to eat Halloween candy as a baby and learned how to ride your bike by wrestling it away from your big brother and insisting on doing it yourself. Your role playing consisted of acting out scenes from "The Lord of the Rings" movies, much to the concern of your friends’ moms, but earning you a reputation as the preschool bad ass.

Despite your precocious antics, you still remain the golden child of the family. As your big brothers and sisters remind us, little ones really do grow up too quickly. Even when you are old enough to wear deodorant, as long as you are younger and smaller than the next guy, you will be comparatively cute and sweet—which means that even though you are tougher than your older siblings, you wear it with an air of innocence.

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Some things money can’t buy. Confidence. Street smarts. Charm. With those assets, you will take the world by storm. And that’s even better than a shiny new bike.

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