My kids and I were talking the other day about birth order and how it affects individuals. My daughter related a story about a speaker who came to the college to present. As part of his presentation he asked all the students in the audience who were the oldest in their families to cheer. And they cheered loud and strong. Next he asked all the babies of the family to cheer. And they did - wildly, crazily as the youngest tend to do. Finally, he asked middle children - no wait - he actually went on with his presentation without giving a nod to the oft-ignored middle child.
Aaah the plight of the children born in the middle. I am one.
I have read several articles about middle children in the past - and have learned about some of the characteristics of middle children. For example, middle children tend to feel they are being left out, are unimportant and even invisible, so they become conditioned to speak up loudly in order to be heard. I also learned middles tend to be rebels. Oldest children tend to be confident, because they are first in their families to achieve milestones. They also tend to be more bossy, as their role models are typically adults. The baby of the family is, of course, just spoiled rotten.
I can relate to some of the stereotypes about being the middle. As a middle, I remember the sting of feeling slighted when my grandma was introducing two of my siblings and me to some friends. She introduced my older sister, Lisa, as her oldest grandchild and my youngest sister, Laura, as the youngest. And then she continued talking to the friend, skipping right over me! The friend pointed me out and asked for my name. I started to cry. I couldn't make Grandma understand I was crying because she forgot me. She thought it was because she introduced Lisa as the oldest and Laura as the youngest. I could tell she was getting frustrated with me, then all at once she apparently thought she had come up with a way to placate me because she said, “Honey, Lisa is my oldest grandchild and Laura is my youngest, but YOU are the blond!”
I stopped crying and thought about that. I was the blond! From that time forward if Lisa was introduced as oldest or Laura as youngest, I made certain to proudly point out I was the blond!
Stop laughing. In my seven-year-old brain it was an honor. I won’t say that incident damaged me, but geez, I did feel rather invisible that day. Who knows? Maybe those types of situations caused me to become more vocal and taught me to advocate strongly for what I believe in.
Of my own four children, my daughter Melodie is the middle child. Well, technically my son Mark is also a middle child, but he holds the distinction of being the only boy among three girls - which I think neutralizes his position as middle child and leaves Melodie holding the role alone. She and I are so much alike it is uncanny, even when it comes to the mundane things in life like what we order for breakfast when we eat out.
Because we are so much alike I am amazed we get along with each other as well as we do but I really love spending time with her and can totally understand her birth-order situation. As a middle child myself, I have tried to overcome some of the negative parenting techniques that affect middles to try to lessen the impact being the middle child could have on Melodie. She is a lovely girl and doesn’t seem to feel invisible, so I guess parental awareness can help mitigate middle child issues.
Among the three leaders of The Torch - Sarah and I are middles and Kelly is an oldest. Kelly throws in those oldest-child words of wisdom and guidance at the times when we need them, and so we work together incredibly well.
But it doesn’t surprise me the two middles drove (I know - food truck - pun intended) this project to its present level. Our role as middles helped mold our personalities to undertake this challenge. We certainly are not invisible anymore. And we are definitely rebels - trying to do things that have not been done before.
If you think about it logically - there are probably more middles in the world than oldest and youngest. After all, you can only have one of each of those. But you could have fifteen middles if you want. We middles could take over the world, if we decided to. Maybe we will. We have just been under-represented and under-appreciated.
That is understandable because people neglect to ask us to cheer for our role as middles.
So I’m asking now. Let’s hear it for the middle child!!!!!!!!!! HIP HIP HOORAY!!!!!!