Is it better for kids to be the oldest in their class, or the youngest? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 01:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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First and foremost, I understand that it will vary greatly from child to child. But in general, what are your experiences with having a child 9-12 months older than the rest of their class or 9-12 months younger?

My girls miss the state's cut off for starting kindy by 2 and 7 days. Dh and I are struggling trying to decide if we should send DD1 to a private school next year so that she can start kindy at 5yo or wait until she's 6yo when she could attend public.

While it wouldn't be a financial burden for us to have her in private school, it would be more inconvenient because I'd have to drive her everyday (rather than being able to take the bus).

DD1 is very socially mature and educationally, I'd say she's average. She's attended preschool 3 full days a week for the last 2 years (due to my work schedule) and loves school.

I was just hoping to gather some insight on your experiences, if your child is significantly older or younger than others in their class.

Any thoughts on this subject are greatly appreciated.
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#2 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 01:54 AM
 
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Like you said it greatly depends on the child. You need to follow your heart, what you feel is best for your child. I've seen a lot of parents in the "learning at school" forum who have younger than the rest at school and are thriving and happy. I had my dd attend a extra year of preschool so she could be older because I felt she would benefit from the extra year. Plus my dd tends to be a leader in situations when others are younger, and quite the follower if the others are older.

My dd is now 8, attending 2nd grade and doing well. While she gets board sometimes with the work at school (she reads at a 6th grade level) I do believe this will even out greatly around 3rd/4th grade.

I wasn't sure if I was totally doing the right thing when I held dd back. But looked at it this way. Most people I talked to didn't regret holding back, but several regretted not. So weigh your options, and follow your heart.

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#3 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 01:58 AM
 
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I think it's better for a child to be the oldest. They are not always struggling to keep up socially and academically and they don't get caught up in the next 'stage' before they are ready (i.e. all the other girls are into boys and they just want to play with dolls still). Of course, like you said this is just a generalization and it really depends on the individual. GL with your decision.
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#4 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 02:14 AM
 
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I know it is different for everyone, but based on my experience, I'd argue that it would be better for a child to start school a little too late than risk starting a little too early.

My dh's brother was born two days before the cutoff for school in our town. His mom sent him to school and he was perennially the youngest in his class.

FWIW, MIL and BIL now tell everyone who will listen not to start their children too early. It wasn't so much in the early grades, but rather in the later ones that the difference in physical and emotional maturity showed up and made a difference. His peer group was older and , according to MIL, this got him into partying and teenage stuff he wasn't ready for. He was always the (rather frustrated) follower, never a leader in school or activities, and his age/maturity apparently had a lot to do with that.

He and his wife had a couple of late winter babies and held them both back a year so they would be on the older side.

I do home childcare and have seen a couple of 4.5 yr old girls start school, not be able to handle it, and then be pulled out to wait for another year. One of them had lasting issues with hating school after this.

My dd was born just after the cutoff and is one of the oldest children in her grade and does very well academically and socially.

My son was born just before the cutoff and I am treating myself to an extra year with him at home. I can see sometimes that he might have been ready for the challenge of K this year, but I am also very happy that he is still so "little boy" in so many ways, not growing up too fast. He tends to seriously hero-worship anyone a little older than he is, and I don't want his peers at school to impress and influence him any more than necessary, ykwim? I think he'll be more confident and more successful starting at 5.5. than he would have at 4.5.

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#5 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 02:22 AM
 
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My kids aren't in school yet, but I can speak for my own experience as a youngest. I was very advanced academically and never felt like the work of school was beyond me. Quite the opposite, actually.

Socially, though, being young was very difficult for me. All through middle school and high school I was incredibly awkward, unable to act natural with my peer group. I just couldn't do the preteen and teen banter with my classmates, couldn't keep up with the innuendo and more mature jokes. It wasn't until I got to college that I really caught up and began to feel comfortable with people in my grade level. I think I would have had a much better experience if I'd been given one more year to develop before starting school.

My parents really didn't even think of that aspect. I was following in my older brother's footsteps and desperate to go to school and I just barely made the cut-off date, so they sent me. I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time, and problems really didn't hit until I was in fourth grade or so.
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#6 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 02:33 AM
 
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My ds is also 2 days too young. He is the third child in the family and being the oldest has been a horrible experience for him.
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#7 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 04:50 AM
 
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i liked being the youngest, but i find more people tell me the opposite- they hated it, or they were the oldest and feel it was better. i think you get used to whichever you are, tho.
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#8 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 04:56 AM
 
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My kid went to school early for his age. I think it's better if he's the youngest in the class. He's a little more mature than most kids his age.
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#9 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 07:33 AM
 
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I was a teacher and like others say it depends on the kid. I just want to give you a heads up if you plan to send her to public first next year. My district made a cutoff through 2nd grade because parents were doing what you were doing (sending kids to private who missed the cutoff). The only legal "out" was if you moved from a district where your child was "legitamitly" in kindergarten or 1st. So if you are planning on sending her to 1st grade next year, just make sure they will take her. Have you checked about testing in? Many districts will let you test in if you are taht close to the date (although ours was strict on it through 3rd grade).

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#10 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 10:26 AM
 
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yep, totally depends on the kid.

My kids were both born after the state cut off. My son by 23 days. He is one of the oldest in his class, and there is NO WAY I could have sent that child to school the year he turned 5.

We are planning on moving to a state that has a much later cut off. If we had been living there the year he turned 5 we still wouldn't have sent him to school.

My daughter on the other hand, is 10 days after the cut off (for our current state), and though she's only 3, if I had to decide today, I would send her to school the year she turns 5, she's more mature than my son was at this age.

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#11 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 10:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RachelEve14 View Post
I was a teacher and like others say it depends on the kid. I just want to give you a heads up if you plan to send her to public first next year. My district made a cutoff through 2nd grade because parents were doing what you were doing (sending kids to private who missed the cutoff). The only legal "out" was if you moved from a district where your child was "legitamitly" in kindergarten or 1st. So if you are planning on sending her to 1st grade next year, just make sure they will take her. Have you checked about testing in? Many districts will let you test in if you are taht close to the date (although ours was strict on it through 3rd grade).
My district does not have a testing-in policy of any kind and they are very strict on the date. They do not bend the rules.

If I did send her to private a year early, she could begin attending public school in third grade, if she passes the test.
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#12 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 11:08 AM
 
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This is a subject to which I can speak to both sides of the coin. My 5th grader was born six days prior to the cut off and is the youngest in her class. My kindergartener was born two days after the cut off and is the oldest in her class.

My 10-year-old has always done extremely well academically despite being the oldest and apart from being physically small (she's a bit small for her age anyway, so it's exaggerated as she's a year younger than the oldest kids), she hasn't stood apart in any way. Until now. She's a fifth grader and will start middle school next year and she definitely doesn't seem as mature as the other girls. She has no signs of puberty, while most of the other girls do. She still enjoys kid stuff (pretend store, dolls, etc.) and plays very well with her younger sister. I have experience with middle schoolers, as I have a seventh grade dd as well, and this isn't the norm for most sixth graders. Obviously I'm happy for her to be just where she needs to be developmentally, but it can be tough for a kid to be pushed into adolescent behaviors too early, so we'll need to keep a close eye on her. The other downside is for sports. She plays both competitive basketball and soccer and her size has been a challenge, especially in basketball, since she's playing with kids sometimes two years older, depending on the bracket.

My youngest dd is the oldest in her class and there are no downsides yet. She's a reader, though some of the younger kindys are as well, but her teacher accomodates that well. She's taller than some kids, but it doesn't seem to make her feel bothered. She's happy and a leader in the class.

Just my experiences.

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#13 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 11:33 AM
 
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It depends alot on the child. My dd turned 4 at the end of September and I was on the fence about sending her, but she loves it. Some of her classmates that didn't turn 4 until the end of December seemed young, some still had bathroom accidents etc.

Why not register your little one and see closer to September?

Private school: Do you think she needs help learning her writing etc? Do you think she will enjoy it? Do you think she will have a hard time changing schools after a year?

gotta go...
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#14 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 11:42 AM
 
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My child is one of the youngest, and does very well, but my friend's child is the youngest also, and is not doing so well.

It varies all over the place! Everyone is different, but having a tutor helps a lot.

Of course when football season begins, it always gets worse! LOL But I believe sports is important. lindy
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#15 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 12:26 PM
 
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I was an oldest. I did not fit in with my class mates. I ended up having more friends in the class before me. I was bored in school, and then started doing poor in school b/c of it. *I* would have been better off being a youngest. Also, I hit puberty young. I hit puberty full force about 2 years before my peers. It was rough being in 4th grade with my period. There was no area in the stalls in the bathroom for used sanitary napkins. So, I had to do the shame walk to the waste paper basket to throw them out. I got picked on by a lot of kids for having my period. A lot of 4th graders had no idea about female stuff and would ask a lot of questions, and then act grossed out. My nickname became "maxi pad". I was the only kid with acne in 4th grade. Being in the next grade up would have helped with some of that.

I am having a dilemma with what to do with my dd for the same situation. She just misses the cut off. Private school sounds nice since they have a later cut off, but financially I don't know if we could swing it.
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#16 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 12:33 PM
 
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Definatley depends on the kid!

Ds was 2 weeks before our cutoff, so he could have entered kindergarten right at age 5, but I held him out. He did one more year of preschool instead.
He is socially immature and shy, so I'm glad I did it.
On the other hand, he is a bit bored since his cognitive skills are above average.

It was a trade off for us.
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#17 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 12:38 PM
 
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I can't speak from a parent's point of view, as my children are not yet in school. I taught for 9 years though, and was also nearly the youngest in my class growing up.

As a student, I never thought negatively of being the youngest in class, and I was academically comfortable. In hindsight, I was socially akward and immature. I didn't fit in well until mid highschool, and I wonder if that was in part to being the youngest. It could just be how I am.

As a teacher, I often noticed that youngest students, or students who were immature, had problems. Those could be academic problems or social problems, or both. I have a nephew that missed cut off by mere days. He was considered academically advanced, but socially immature. He was put in early, and it seems to have been a mistake. He has struggled for a long time now.

If it were me in your spot, I'd put her in kindergarten only if I were dissatisfied with existing preschool options.

Good luck

Twin boys (2/05) and little sister (10/07)
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#18 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 12:39 PM
 
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Depends on the child.

I HATED being the oldest
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#19 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 12:53 PM
 
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Didn't read the responses.

But...

If you choose a Montessori program, your child can be BOTH (oldst & youngest) , because of the mixed-age classrooms.
But, I'm biased.

If that's not an option, I'd say oldest is better.

I was always MUCH younger than everyone in my class (mom started me in kindy at age 4). I think it made things touger on me, socially, all the way through until college.
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#20 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 01:05 PM
 
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My 6 year old is one of the younger ones in his class. His bday is in March, but several kids in his class are a full year older than him because they repeated kindergarten.

He's done really well. He's quite a bit ahead of most of his class but since he is younger, he's socially younger as well. But we haven't had any issues with it.
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#21 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 01:18 PM
 
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We were faced with a similar decision when we had not yet made the decision to homeschool. A good friend of mines years before had made the decision to hold back her late summer birthday girl who was very bright. I talked to her about it becasue I was very surprised. IMO she was more than ready for K. Her mom told me it wasn't so much about K but about the fact that she didn't want her leaving for college days after turning. Also there are advantages to having your kid be one of the first ones old enough to drive a car, date, etc. If they are the youngest they are getting into things earlier than they might be otherwise. They grow up so fast as it is! We decided to homeschool, so it became a mute point for us. If we would of sent him to school, I would of held ds1 back and started K at 6. In his DDC on another board there we very few of us that made that decision. None of the ones that did have regretted it. Some of the ones that went ahead and sent them to K have had real struggles. Some have had teachers suggest they repeat K, although none made the decision to do that. They are having stuggles in 1st that I don't believe they would of had if they had started K at 6.
Good luck with your decision. I know it can be a tough one.

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#22 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 01:28 PM
 
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my dd is one of the youngest and ahead ... so there was no way we could have continued her in the ps/dc she was going to while i went to work. she has been doing great. i know if we had been in another state she would have missed the cut off.

having said that .... if i could have put her in some sort of preK program at a ps - that would have been much better than public K. she had a tough year. it was boring and she was v. unhappy. not enough fun activities. hopefully with private you wont face the same issue.

she missed the art, science experiments, music adn dance and just playing and running out in the open. i know i didnt look for that when i was looking for schools, so i had to change her in 1st. i know now at 1st many kids started at a great K program have a better experience and attitude to school. my dd took a lot of time to get there.

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#23 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 01:36 PM
 
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It does depend on the child- have you thought about asking your dds their opinion about the subject? I have a 2 year old who was born 1 week before the cutoff, so this is something we will have to struggle with too.

I was the oldest in my class and I hated it. My parents and I decided that I should start school a year early, but a family friend talked my parents out of it. I had the type of personality that even though I was more mature than my classmates and knew many of the answers in class, it didn't make me feel more socially secure in class. I didn't want to be the leader, instead I got bored and disengaged myself from my classmates. I was academically advanced so they had to pull me out of regular classrooms for the enrichment programs. Although I enjoyed the gifted classes, part of me still felt like I was behind and was a failure because no matter how hard I worked in these classes or how well I did, I felt that other kids my age already must be studying these subjects because they were placed in the right grade from the beginning. Anyway, it made for a bad gradeschool experience.

In highschool, all the boys where a year younger than me in my grade so dating didn't seem like an option with them. I tended to date boys older than me (I believe as an over reaction).

Dh was the youngest in his class, but loved it. He did well both academically and socially (in sports).

But, it really does depend on the child's personality. I just wanted to give you a glimpse from someone who hated being held back.
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#24 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 01:39 PM
 
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As most others have said, it does totally depend on the child. My son is only 2yo, but I'm already thinking about this. Due to my experience being one of the youngest in my class, I am leaning toward keeping him at home an extra year.

I was always in the gifted programs, so academically it was fine. Socially it is a little more difficult. I never even noticed that I was younger than everyone else until about 10th grade. That is when it got to be very noticable and I hated it. Everyone else was getting their drivers license and I was still a year away from getting it. It's things like that which make it difficult. All my friends were working in the summer at the local park and having a great time, I couldn't because I was too young. It is also really difficult when everyone else is going to things which were 18 and older only (clubs, weekend trips, voting). It all seems a little silly now, but I hated being left behind because I was too young. At least I turned 18 before college started in September. I cannot imagine how difficult it would have been to still be 17, starting college and living on campus.

My DH was the oldest kid in his class. He is wicked smart, so I'm sure he was held back for social reasons. His mother will tell anyone who will listen that it was the best decision she ever made.

IMO it's harder for a boy to be the youngest than it is for a girl. Girls don't have to worry so much about being the smallest and weakest kid.

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#25 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 01:45 PM
 
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I was the youngest, I skipped first grade actually, I never struggled with the academics, but boy did I struggled socially not only in elementary but all the way into high school, once i got to college, no way I was prepared for the responsibilities and to take all the freedom that college gives you, so I struggled a lot in the first year flunked a bunch of subjects, once i was mature enough i snapped my self out of it and dedicated myself and got good grades but my GPA is seriously hurt by those first semesters.

I say let the kids be kids, is better for them have an extra year of play, even if you think your 4 yo is ready for K now, not many 16 yo are ready for all the responsibilities of college, academically maybe but there is so much more than that.

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#26 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 01:50 PM
 
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Just wanted to add, you might also consider the average age of her classmates. I know it seems obvious that a cutoff is a cutoff, but different areas across the country seem to handle bday cutoffs differently.

My sister's ds was born 1 week after the cutoff date. She decided to hold him back a year which was a good decision because although he is one of the oldest, there are many kids around his age. Whereas my MIL (retired teacher) was suprised that my nephew was only starting the 1st grade because in her home town they tend to start children younger.
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#27 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 01:55 PM
 
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Haven't read the other responses so forgive me if this has already been discussed but there is a new book by Malcolm Gladwell that devotes a portion of the book to this very topic. It's called Outliers and there is at least one chapter that I can recall that discusses oldest vs youngest in a class. His studies have shown that it's better to be the oldest. Once I read that chapter, I compared it with my own step-kids. All four of them have been identified as "gifted" in their public school system however 1 of the 4, DSD 9, is not in the top reading group in her class nor has she ever been as far as I can recall. Her other siblings have all been consistantly in the highest reading group and language arts group. Here are the breakdown in birthdays:

DSS 13: January
DSD 11: November
DSD 9: May
DSS 8: December

So as you can see DSS 13, DSD 11 and DSS 8 are some of the oldest kids in their classes. DSD 9 is one of the younger ones in her class. It may mean something or it may mean nothing.

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#28 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 01:59 PM
 
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Ds is about 2 weeks shy of our districts cutoff date. We will wait until he is 5, almost 6 to send him to K. I have found in my experience as a school nurse that boys tend to be less ready for K socially if they are the youngest. However, it really depends on the child and the need of the family.

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#29 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 02:09 PM
 
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Interesting question because if you asked me years ago I would have said better to hold off then to push a child.

That being said because of my ds and dd's summer birthdays, they have been youngest in their classes. They love school and do very well socially and academically.

Neither one of them would have benefitted from waiting another year.

I think it does just really depend on the child. Our state has become very strict regarding the cut off date and I think some children who would do well in kindergarten are being forced to do preschool another year or find a private option.
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#30 of 56 Old 01-08-2009, 02:09 PM
 
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I was always the youngest, at least 10months younger than every one else. It was difficult for me emotionally and very hard for me to make friends. I was really probably the best candidate ever for going to school early, I was ahead of the curve in pretty much everything but when middle school rolled around it was very hard. It got easier in high school.

I would never send any of my children to school early even if they seemed ready.

I was also physically smaller than everyone else which really made for some problems. I really never qualified for any sports because of this, and I was subject to all kinds of getting beat up and shoved in lockers and etc.

Of course my problems were not all because I was the youngest and smallest, but it sure did not help.

I would avoid avoid avoid it. They will always be the youngest, and even if they are on par with older kids now doesn't mean that they'll always be. That's just from my experience, though.

eta: I never had problems academically, I was always one of the smartest, but that is not the only thing that school is about.

Nik! Mama to Evelynn Rose 08/19/08 and Autumn Lily 11/02/10
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