The experience of growing up as a middle child cannot be compared to that of any other child. All children compete for the attention of their parents. But unless it’s a call to the principal’s office, the middle child probably won’t win that competition.
I’ve been blessed with having two loving parents along with an older and younger brother. These are the most important people in my life and have always been. My parents love all their children including their oldest, their youngest and, yes, me, their middle child.
In a happy, healthy relationship of a husband and wife, the welcoming of a firstborn is wildly important. The ideology of the firstborn being the “leader of the pack” is easily observable throughout history, whether the firstborn is heir to the king or the inheritor of the family’s farm or business.
Sometimes the responsibilities that come with raising a firstborn come with the price of glancing over the second-born. I think most parents are “good” and that their actions come from a place of love. That being said, I should note that children are sensitive, gentle beings.
When I was younger, I would grow sad when I saw the hands on the clock tick towards five. I knew I would watch my mom and dad come home from work and hug my older brother first, put their bags down and then give me a hug.
It’s amazing how some miniscule things for adults are big thingsfor little kids. I watched my dad do his best to go to all of my older brother’s soccer games, take the time to go over things to play better and really make an event out of it. I never got the same chance to learn with that much attention.
The connection between a mother and her son is truly special. You always hear about someone being a “momma’s boy,” but I’ve never really understood what that meant until I watched my mom show my younger brother the love and gentleness of motherly love. Then I began to understand that term.
Babies cry. They cry not because they want to, but because they don’t have another means of communicating. Middle children, who often grow up feeling that they’re the second option or that their siblings are given more of the spotlight, are the same.
There are, however, positives to being the middle child. When a head is turned, it presents an opportunity. Middle children learn to use the inattention they are shown and turn it into freedom, feeling a need to learn on their own more about the world around them or to do things so great they force their parents to pay attention.
Some middle children use their perceived neglect as motivation. These include middle children like the great Michael Jordan or Peyton Manning, who worked day in and day out with or without knowing that some part of them is hoping their parents are watching. Others, like David Letterman and Brittney Spears, might have had more assurance of knowing their parents are watching.
Although growing up as a middle child is challenging, frustrating and sometimes unfair, it should not cause middle children to slow down or prevent them from reaching the heights they can achieve.
Life is a beautiful, fleeting, inexplicable moment that most people want to last as long as possible. We experience the happiness, laughter and love of those important to us and, inevitably, the sadness, pain and misery that comes along with those good times.
Life is also a game to be played, a hand of cards you’re dealt–and you’re in, like it or not. Middle children should know the choice is forever theirs.
Steven Smith is a community college student and an occasional contributor to the Westside Express.