WEST FORK KICKAPOO - Have you ever noticed that by the time the youngest child in the family arrives, the parents are tired of taking pictures? I’m the youngest in my family of three siblings; my sister is almost five years older, and my brother four. Mom has tons of pictures of them and almost none of me.
I hear this phenomenon referred to as being ‘the invisible child.’
My brother, though older, is shorter and wider than me, while I’m sleek like a panther. Yet, he’s still more photogenic. When we meet people out hiking, he gets all the compliments.
In summer, my dark body absorbs the sun like a sponge soaks up water. That’s why I leap into every stream, river, pond and lake I see, when I’m out hiking with my family—it’s the best way to cool off. Not that you’ll ever see a picture of me in water. Oh, but I’ll wager you’ve seen plenty of my brother and even my sister!
Yesterday, I was moping around the house, hoping Mom would notice, but she was too busy singing, “Rub-a-dub-dub, little Finny in the tub,” as she gave Finn-againhis third bath of the month. I love the water, and I love taking a bath, I yelped, just in case anyone was listening.
No one was, so I jumped into the tub. Mom yelled “Ruben, no!” Finnegan barked, and I had to get out. It’s tough being the youngest.
Téte, my older sister, is a troublemaker. The other day, I was minding my own business, lying on the couch, when she pounced on me and started barking in my ear. Mom ran in, Téte jumped off, and Igot scolded. Often, when Mom gives us twisty bone snacks, Téte will gobble hers down and then take mine. If I growl, she gets mad and starts a fight. Nowadays, I just give in—what’s the use?
Mom’s always saying, “Téte, you’re so pretty. Téte, are you a good girl?” Nope, she is neither, but who's listening to me? Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat some worms.
I try to point out to my family that I’m really clever and can do tricks. When Papa comes over to visit I grab the nearest thing and run around with it in my mouth, wagging my tail as I go. Papa thinks this is funny. Sometimes, I grab one of Mom’s shoes or a dishtowel, even a book. I’m not fussy, just talented.
I also join Papa while he sits at his desk, looking at his computer, ignoring me. I hop up and sit real close, right behind his back. His desk is in the kitchen, and if he gets up and Mom’s cooking, I stand on his chair so I can see what she’s making. I love hamburgers! Maybe Mom could take a picture of me eating a hamburger or standing on Papa’s chair in the kitchen? I’ll bet she has pictures of Finnegan and Téte eating vanilla ice cream cones (yum!) at Culver's, but not any of me.
Another skill I have is climbing the ginormous cat tower in the living room. I’ll bet you’d like to see a photo of me on the tippy-top!
Sometimes, I want to stomp my paws and bark as loud as Téte, just to get everyone’s attention. I despise not being seen or heard.
If Mom had gotten me first, I’d be the oldest and I could boss everyone around like Téte does now. Or if I were the middle child, I could get away with anything, anythingat all, like grabbing dinner off Mom’s plate. I can hear her now: “Oh, isn’t he cute?”
When Finnegan ran inside the house yesterday with his muddy paws and rolled on the couch, he didn’t even get yelled at. If that had been me, I’d have been marched right back out to the mudroom until my paws were cleaned off. It’s not fair. I don’t want to be the youngest.
If I were older, if I were the middle child, if I were anything but the youngest I’d have a book filled with my photos, and my family would pay attention to me. I wouldn't be invisible anymore.
But I’m not. I’ll always be the youngest, unless...unless I can talk Mom into adopting another dog. Now there’sa good idea!You see how smart I am, don’t you?