Mirror Magazine
29th April 2001
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The 'Spoilt Brat'

"People constantly tell me that being the youngest or the 'baby' of the family is supposed to be lucky. You get to have your way and the constant 'wrong doings' are excused just because you happen to be 'small'. Well right and wrong. True being the youngest is advantageous. Having gone through previous experiences with the older siblings, parents seem more relaxed and less weary. It's as if all that could go drastically wrong with them has happened and they know how to deal with it when it comes to your turn, so the pressure is off. Coming last does have its ups. I find 'the elders first' simply great as it leads to less trial and error. You are not the first person in the family to do big exams, the first person to face interviews or (in most cases) the first person to make the major decisions in life like marriage.(Phew!) You are always afforded this 'look and learn' scenario. The risk factor is less and there is always someone to turn to for advice or encouragement. You don't have to be the rock of Gibraltar and lend support. But, all's not hunky dory. There are instances when I feel like 'last and by all means least'. Because the path has been paved for me. I'm never me but someone's younger sibling. Life gets harder when those who came before you did 'great feats' because then there's a lot of 'living up' to do. There's no getting away from the usual question of 'why can't you be more like your brother or sister'. Any amount of "I'm unique" does nothing to help. If not constantly compared you are categorised into the same mould and if you happen to deviate or differ, oh, (eyes rolling) there's no stopping the barage of comments. When you are the youngest, parents constantly send mixed signals. As in they tell you to stop acting like a baby and the next time you ask them permission for something and you are told 'no no you are too young'. Now where does that leave moi. It can be rather exasperating at times and when you try explaining you are told to "stop whining like a spoilt child"-oh well. And this business of the youngest being showered with extra love. Well not necessarily so, because I know I'm not. I get the general quota that is doled out to those before me. Whoever said 'save the best for the last' no doubt got his wires crossed!" Comments by the counsellor

o Youngests can either be pampered due to the excessive attention showered on them or over looked merely because they simply came last.

o As a result of attention being concentrated on them at times they get away with blue murder

o They can also become the focal point of jealosy of the other siblings which could lead to bickering and constant fighs.

o Parents should be mindful that constant comparison with the excessively talented or intelligent older sibling can lead to low self esteem and complexes.

o Thus it's important that parental attention be channelled in the positive way so that the child will grow up to reflect that positive attention she has basked in for so long.

Validate what your child feels

"Research into the subject on the position of a child in the family and how it affects them was carried out only in the late seventies," says Mrs. Priya Kodippily of the counselling centre at the Salvation Army. According to her many of the feelings that occur are essentially the same, irrespective of the position they are in. "Jealousy is a common feeling for a child and it doesn't help to tell a child not to feel jealous. Such feelings should be validated instead of dismissed, because if they are dismissed, the child represses the feelings and forms a feeling of resentment toward his/her siblings. It is the same principle where anger and hurt is concerned."

Depending on how they are treated children can form the traits of the 'rejected child', the 'aggressive child' or the 'lazy child'. They feel that at least by taking on these traits they win the attention of their parents. However what the child doesn't know and many parents fail to understand is the fact that this attention is in fact negative attention. If these complexes and feelings are not worked out the children carry these on into adult life, and they become the root of many of the problems they face at that stage.

Says Mrs. Kodippily, "The best way to avoid such complexes is to validate what your child is feeling. Accept what they are feeling and then encourage them to talk about it."

She even suggests the use of a doll, which could be given to the child so that he could be encouraged to take out his anger on the doll instead of his siblings. "Many children will pinch the doll or poke its eye. At that stage it important that you talk to them about what they are feeling and tell them that it's okay to do it to the doll but not to their siblings because it could seriously hurt them."

"In these situations it's not about equality, but quality," says Mrs. Kodippily. "Depending on the position they are placed in the family each child reacts differently. It's just a matter of identifying their feelings and channelling them positively to develop their character. Each one of your children is unique, love them for that unique quality in them."


We are sorry for the short time span for entries this month for 'Legend'. The theme for May is "Lights". Please send in your contributions before May 20 to:

Madhubhashini Ratnayake , C/o The Sunday Times, P.O Box 1136, Colombo.


You reached up and above. I saw you through the skylight. The storks flew out (or was it the swallows?) at the winter's consternation. And still you reached higher, into the twinkling oblivion, while I gazed starry-eyed. The heroes came and went. Yes, they all went. One by one, hung out like billowing sheets on a dhoby line. And you

You. Did you find out


The rainbow:

Which end is the beginning?

Which end is the end?


To become legends


what are they?

You don't know!

I don't either!

But we've got to be legends,

You know that we've got to


'Cause they want us to.

They want all of us too.


How do we become legends?

Oh! You don't know that either!

What a coincidence!

'Cause I don't either

-Vositha Wijenayake


When I was little

And made a nuisance of myself

I was shown the fire devils

In the paddy fields below our garden

They came out during the hot nights

And danced up and down

Jumping backwards and forwards

And going sideways

They scared me so much

That I stopped my own devilry

And was quiet

For the rest of the night,

But when I grw up

I learned

That the fire devil

Was only a legend

Made up by generations of servants

To keep their wards quiet

The fire devils

I saw as a child

Were only escaping gas

From marshy places

That got ignited on contact

With the hot air

And seem on starry nights

The so called will-o-the-wisp.

-Khalida Lebbe

A silent legend

Years of patience,

Courage unblemished,

Abundant faith,

With a touch of flair.

Minus heirlooms and tributes.

"Hm, impressive, but I'm sorry

You don't fit the bill.

Next !"

He beckons the next in line.

The door is shut and opened again.

Footsteps, hollow and resonant

On the dorway.

"Get ready for a screen test."

The corridors echo words of mockery,

As the hero of an unheard legend,

Makes his way back

Missing yet another bid

To seize the spotlight.

-Sachitra Somarathna

The legends of yore

I know I am a hopless romantic

And a hopeless dreamer too.

That's why I adore

The legends of yore!

Knights in shining armour

Fighting with flame tongues

To save their dragons capricious, fair maidens...

King Arthur

With his round table of knights

Don Quixote

Horse drawn chariots

Butlers and bailiffs in uniform

I could go on and on and on

Because I am a

Hopeless romantic

And a hopeless dreamer too.

-Subha Ranaweera


In my childhood

My Grand pa used

to unearth the buried past,

narrating legends of

Kings, kingdoms, wars

discoveries, explorations, invasions

and so many things.

Now Grandpa is dead and gone

but all those things are

living in my mind.

-Nandalal Nanayakkara

Great great grandfather

Grandfather used to tell

Stories of his own Seeya, Andiris Appu:

Corny tales, racy tales

Of days long ago,

Filled with wit and pugnacity

How he monoplised the Arrack trade,

How he rubbed the GA's nose in the ground,

How he outwitted his rivals

At every nook and turn,

All stuff of legend to us!

To us children listening

All spell-bound, enthralled,

Our Seeya's Seeya was not so much

A man, but a figure nine feet tall,

A legend in his own lifetime

-Prianthi Wickramasuriya

"Legend": ASCLEPIOS & SUSRUTA An authentic experience

The midnight clock strikes loud and clear,

Triumphantly declaring power

Despite the TV's deadly tentacles

And crashing crescendos

Of sound and fury...

Its mementors of Earth

And Nature's marvels

The lights grow dim,

then darkness reigns...

I'm falling into a black hole

Of agonizing pain

A miasma of long-drawn agony.

Strong hands are lifting me...

I've been rescued from the abyss of despair.

Silent healers help to mend

My broken bones..

Descendants of ASCLEPIOS

And SUSRUTA whose legendary skills

They've inherited.

They're teaching me to walk once more

-Jegatheesari Nagendran

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