Having a good day?
Well, let me go ahead and ruin it for you if you happen to be a middle child by drudging up some possibly unpleasant memories of your childhood.
Unless your answer was no. Then we’re good here.
Let us proceed then.
I have three kids. They are all incredible little humans and I am incredibly proud of them all. They’re each unique, talented, and special. Each has a gift given to them by nature or God himself. Having children really woke the amateur sociologist in me, sincerely, and I have been doing experiments on them since they were born. Nothing cruel, like depriving them of affection like they did to those Russian orphans and those poor little monkeys. I promise. Harmless, all of it, but…SCIENCE!
Being analytical, curious, and outward thinking, I took it upon myself to at least attempt to solve the world’s greatest behavioral mysteries! (Insert maniacal laughter). Here is one thing I have learned about those poor little Middles.
There seems to be a reoccuring issue, something I like to call the “take and break dilemma”. Let me explain with a clear example.
My Middle had a birthday recently and I noticed something. As soon as he got a new toy out of the box, Big brother would try to manipulate him into letting him play with it. In fact, at times, as Middle played with one of the new toys, Big was in the background opening up a box. He claimed he was trying to help Middle get at his stuff faster, but it was obvious to any intelligent adult what was really going on. Big shouldn’t be punished about this. His tactics were innocent. He’s still learning the boundaries of brotherhood himself but, that is the “take”.
Middle idolizes Big, relies on him for assistance in many areas and thusly feels an automatic sense of pressure to comply to his requests.
Meanwhile, Little is grabbin’ sh**, left and right. Haphazardly tossin’ sh** around like a maniac. She doesn’t know any better, really. She has been given indestructible baby toys her whole life that haven’t nearly as many removable and delicate pieces. She’s still learning to take care of material goods. And there’s the “break”.
Middle loves his baby sis. He protects her and falls for her big brown eyes and pleas every, single, time. He and Big receive swift punishment if Little is hurt, physically or her feelings, because, from the moment they met her, she was fragile, small, and guarded by the adults. Something Middle and Big can’t remember mommy doing for them in their infancy, but are seeing clearly with the Little. I’m sure he feels that if he says no and makes Little cry, he will get in big trouble.
Middle gets something new and it is RIPPED from him with Big’s manipulation and absolutely DESTROYED by Little’s carelessness. Bummer, dude. Sincerely.
How can a kid enjoy their stuff when they live in a state of pressurized paranoia, feeling they have to share the newness under the direction of adults, being conned into submission by the wisest of the siblings, and being fearful of the inevitable damage that will be done by the smallest? Poor Middle.
This particular problem effects Middle more because, well, he’s right there in the middle. He’s big enough to have stuff that still interests Big and little enough to get things that Little is beginning to enjoy. Big wants nothing to do with Little’s things, Little doesn’t understand the belongings of Big.
It’s a habit as a parent to tell them to share. Share it all! Share it now! Share! Share! Share! I know I’ve done it. My fear of them growing to be greedy and selfish caused that annoying tic.
But, poor Middle has ALWAYS had to share. Even his mommy. BIG had years with no competition. Middle had to deal with the confusion and frustration of a first time parent of two. Honestly, having a third was easier than having my second. All the kinks were worked out by the time number three came into being. Those kinks were worked out on poor One and Two. Baby number three had a professional parent from the very beginning.
While working out those kinks, mommy had to gently and patiently teach Big to share mommy, to detach and become more independant, to require less from momma bear. Less attention was given to Middle in order to fulfill the needs of Big, but Little never had to deal with this because Middle was born to share mommy. So Little got all the attention she needed because Big and Middle had already been taught that mommy only has two arms but one big heart made for three.
Middle has always been required to share. So, and this is just me, I don’t make him share it all, at least not right away.
He needs to feel special, important, a priority. When he gets new things, when they all get new things, they’re not forced to share immediately, or even at all if it’s a very special thing. I allow them all to make the choice, let them rub a little of the newness off of their toy before everyone else gets their turn. If they haven’t made the decision to share after a few days of play, we have a discussion about the importance of having a gracious nature and they usually turn their “my stuff” attitude around.
I feel the need to be very attentive with my kids, every child is unique, they know the same rules apply to all in most situations but, because they’re individuals, sometimes different rules are enforced for each. All the while, they’re told REPEATEDLY (to a degree that must annoy them) that my love for them is equal, never divided, always multiplied.
Middle’s struggle with the “take and break” scenario is something I monitor very closely.
Obviously, the importance of personal time and special activities designed for each individual child to experience with each parent is very important. I feel it’s necessary to seperate their experiences in their youth to help foster their own personal identities as discovering one’s self is difficult enough without constantly being grouped and lumped together. By giving them a baseline of interests and qualities to look to for guidance during the safety of their formative years is incredibly beneficial.
From what I’ve seen, no child struggles more to find their center than the Middle.
For this reason, I feel the need to make sure they aren’t constantly being forced to place their things into the destructive hands of the Little or be subjected to the misguided reasoning Big uses to get at Middle’s stuff.
They all need to be taught ABSO-FRIGGIN-LUTELY EVERY SINGLE EFFIN’ THING. It’s exhausting to help children form beneficial behaviors and perceptions. Other than natural instinctive body functions, we are all born clueless. Thoughtful measures are taken, research is done. Sh**, I even survey my friends and family and develop statistical overviews and conclusions. Nerd.
I can’t help it. I was born to evaluate and decipher, reform not conform. I hope parents and their kids can benefit from my hours of informal behavioral studies.
I have no degree. I am not a professional anything, anywhere. But, I am dedicated and diligent. I’m well informed and well practiced. I’m a mommy. Good ‘nuf.
Bee-tee-dubs, this mommy thinks the hours of tireless introspection, research and fact checking, objective cross examination of multitudes of opinions, is worth every ounce of intuitive understanding these kids will gain and have engrained in their subconscious minds. It is worth the effort, sleep deprivation, and the “diligence wrinkles”. That’s what I affectionately call the marks between my eyebrows from pondering and thinking things like, “Why the eff would any creature, anywhere, ever, think it was a good idea to smear poo all over the television?”. All while making that face. You know that face. The one that is often accompanied by a hand over the mouth that is desperately holding in the obscenities as you realize you’re about to have to lysol and q-tip someone else’s sh** out of the cracks and holes of an old t.v. Sigh.
The “Fun with Feces” phase is proof we came from monkeys. Only explanation, man. No other sense can be made of the amount of excrement I have cleaned out of hair, appliance’s, and off of other children. “Look what’s in the toybox, mom! “. Yikes, dude.