The other night I was eating cookies when I started having deep thoughts about my lack of self-control. I’m confident there’s no need to point out the obvious connection. Let’s just say I find it hard to stop at a cookie or two and leave it at that for now, okay?
I started to wonder, why do I DO that? I know plenty of people who can walk away from a cookie. I know people who will have a sliver of cake for dessert and be satisfied. I know kids who can haul in a pillowcase full of candy on Halloween, and have it last until Christmas without their parents wrapping them into straitjackets as soon as they get home from school each day.
What made me and Cookie Monster the way we are and, better yet, is there anything or anybody else I can blame for it?
Is it genetic? I know there can be a tendency within families to be fat or thin, so there is likely some element of genetics in the picture. Is excessive eating learned behavior? Again, if the whole family is waddling down the line at the Home Town Buffet a couple times a week, it’s hard to be the odd one out opting for the salad bar.
Then I wondered if birth order could have anything to do with it. I am the eldest in a family with three children. While they have their battles with the scale, too, my younger brother and sister are far more successful at controlling themselves than I am. And growing up, I was the rebel, paving the way so their later escapades were viewed by my parents with far less alarm.
I was the wild child who liked sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And now I like cookies.
So here’s what I think happened, genetically. See if this makes sense to you, too.
Back in the olden days when I was conceived, there was no reliable birth control. The Pill had not yet been invented and young women and girls everywhere were keeping their knees together if they didn’t want to start a family before the trip down the altar. This may come as a surprise to any younger readers, but single motherhood was much frowned upon in those days. And not only was there no daycare, but there were lots of places of business that wouldn’t even hire a pregnant woman. In some jobs, even a really great worker would be forced to leave as soon as she was visibly pregnant. Anyone who does not want to call herself a feminist today would do well to read a little history of what life was like for women as recently as 50 or 60 years ago. Seriously.
Anyhoo, my theory goes on to suggest that first born children born prior to the advent of The Pill were conceived in a virtual firestorm of NEW SEX by two young people who had almost exclusively kept it in their pants up to that point. These early attempts at sex were akin to trying to serve a decent spaghetti dinner without letting the sauce simmer for a few hours. Like getting heartburn after gobbling down a plate of rigatoni with raw sauce, this screwed with the genetic makeup of the baby. Imagine this:
From Mommy’s point of view: It’s the big night. The cake was cut, the garter tossed, she’s in her bridal negligee and ready to find out what all the fuss is about. There’s been some serious fooling around up to this point, so Mommy is definitely up for it, though a little scared, too. Consequently, the egg supply is getting mixed signals. On the one hand, everyone’s saying, FINALLY. And on the other hand, the more sedate, cautious, and dare we say, intelligent eggs are holding back a little. “Let’s see how this one goes before we commit to any big changes,” they agree.
However, there is always one adventurous, slutty little egg. The one that’s been waiting for this moment and is wiggling her round little bottom and saying, “Come and get me, Big Boy!” Naturally, that’s the one that will be in the line of fire.
From Daddy’s point of view: The swimmers are young, strong, profuse, and ready for action. And when things get going, there’s a lot of excitement discovering that there’s something that feels even better than a hand out there. Everybody’s excited, but it’s the most boisterous boys that dash to the front and, you guessed it, it’s the most reckless, rapid tadpole in the bunch who finds his mark on the bravest little egg.
And bingo! We have lift off and the first born is in the oven before you can light a Lucky and say, “Was that good for you?”
Is it any surprise that the result of early, possibly inept, but exceedingly enthusiastic sex results in a child with excessive tendencies? I’m not saying that later babies are the result of duty sex, but let’s face it, chances are the early days of wild monkey copulation have cooled down at least a little bit. I mean, even Brad and Angelina probably have comfortable sex by now. George isn’t likely to tear off Amal’s designer duds (or vice versa). After the birth of North West, do Kanye and Kim still perform sexual stunts on motorcycles? I doubt it.
So my theory, as you can see, is that first born children, like me, have a genetic reason for having trouble with relating to delayed gratification. I want what I want NOW. Back in the day, I was a girl who didn’t even want to say no. I was a girl who was up for one more drink before we closed down the bar (and then went off on the back of someone’s motorcycle to continue the party at someone’s place). I was the girl who graduated from college and took a job teaching in Australia a month later because I wanted to have an adventure.
I am thinking not only of myself but of numerous firstborn friends of my generation who were right there with me closing the bar and riding on motorcycles in our youth. I’m not saying only the firstborns were recklessly opting for crazy fun over caution, but – you know who you are, my buddies. Oh, yeah.
What will happen to all the wild firstborns now that couples are mostly having all their early sexcapades long before they think about making babies? Will we have to watch out for the babies born to super conservative religious cults? Oh, my gosh! Is that the explanation for Muslim extremists? And what about that molesting, sex-crazy Duggar guy? Isn’t he his parent’s oldest child? Those Duggar grandchildren may turn out to be hell on wheels, too, if my theory holds true.
Once I was a wild child. Now I can’t stop eating cookies. If the Pill had been available a generation earlier, I’d probably be wearing a size eight. It’s only logical.