I’m not a fan of stereotypes, but sometimes there is a grain of truth in them.
Like Middle Child Syndrome.
I’d be a liar if I tried to deny it.
I’m a middle kid myself. I adore my younger and older siblings, and without them, I wouldn’t be the middle kid: but I get it.
I actually didn’t give any thought or merit to having a middle child, i.e., making Mr. B the middle child with the birth of Sweet M.
I should have.
It’s been a turbulent year for my favorite oldest son. He lost the role of baby in the family. His best friend (Miss H) took off to school and left him behind. Those are two pretty huge life changes.
I have found myself at times annoyed with him for how self centered he is at times (what 5 year old isn’t?). And then I have to stop and remind myself that he must be self centered in this season. He must be loud and cause a ruckus. He must demand attention for humself, or he very well may fade into the background of quiet, sensitive, good, middle child, who is all to easily misplaced and overlooked because they don’t need or demand anything.
And he’s far too precious to let slip through my fingers just because this season got a bit busy and messy and full of other stuff. It’s never too full for him.
Not to mention he’s so sensitive. Another characteristic of the middle child I suppose, because I can totally relate. And sensitive is often a word tossed around like a bad thing, and yet I’d go out on a limb to say it might be one of B’s very best qualities, and mine, too. Sensitive isn’t bad. Sensitive is just in-tune. To so much. To everything. There isn’t anything bad about that.
I find myself second guessing everything I say to him. Am I being a pushover? Am I being too stern? Is this a time I need to ease up or is this a time I need to stand fast? Will this break him? Is this what will ruin our relationship? Will this help us attain our end goal (compassionate, kind, empathetic, hard-working human being)? So many questions, and most days I feel a little lost with this sweet soul I’ve been entrusted with.
I needed to make a return at Target today, and he asked if he could look at toys. I wanted to say “no,” because I wanted it to be a quick in and out, but I said yes. After a few minutes of intensely investigating each toy , he looked up at me and said, “Momma?”
I braced myself. He was going to ask for a toy. I was going to say no. He was going to get mad at me and declare that I don’t love or care about him, which was going to make me upset because he knows better and those are fighting words that just seem manipulative to me most of the time (though I get it…those are his feelings. And even if I don’t agree, they’re still his to feel). In about .02 seconds I saw our whole day spiraling down and it was only 9:30am.
“Yes?” I replied slowly.
“Could I pick out H and M’s Christmas presents today?”
I thought for a second. Can he keep it a surprise from his sister for this long between now and Christmas?
Will it hurt anything if he doesn’t?
“Okay,” I agreed.
And then I watched as he studied toys even more intensely until he found just the perfect things for his siblings (Pokémon cards for his sister, an inflatable riding bumble bee for his brother).
His face was lit up. He was so excited with his choices, gushing over how much they would each love them.
He lamented briefly when he saw the Power Rangers aisle nearly empty: the coveted toy he’s had his heart set on sold out. He doesn’t fully yet understand that more toys exist outside of what he can see there in the store.
“Guess that means no Ankylo Zord for Christmas this year.” I felt so bad that I had to keep myself from squealing “It’s wrapped up in the closet, buddy!”
Then he turned to the cart with his chosen gifts for his siblings and said, “At least they still had these left! H and M are gonna love them!”
And in that moment, I knew he was going to be just fine. With that big, caring, sensitive heart.
He and I will just have to stick together. We get it. We’re middle kids, after all.
And we are going to be all right.