Is it possible for a family to avoid the curse of the middle child? In most of the descriptors I’ve read, the middle child is always listed as one who is likely to feel “overlooked” or “left out,” not the first one in the family to do things but also not the baby of the family getting all the attention. I’m afraid that Gym Girl experiences this, even though we’ve tried hard to avoid it.
This whole issue struck me a bit when I was working with Gym Girl and Soccer Boy on homework last night. I had dropped Dancer Girl off at the public library earlier for a study group, and she hadn’t yet returned home. Gym Girl, as usual, was methodically going through her homework, asking a question here or there but primarily working independently. She is very independent in both school and gymnastics, rarely asking us for help and keeping meticulous lists and schedules of what she needs to accomplish (hello, Adventure Guy, this little acorn did not fall far from the tree). She’s also fiercely competitive in a very quiet, unassuming way. Never tell Gym Girl that she can’t do something or set out a task that you don’t expect her to achieve. From the time she was three years old and decided she would climb a rope at gym and ring the bell at the top and then worked for months to do it until the time she beat teenage boys in a pull up competition at the fair, if Gym Girl sets her mind to it, it’s going to happen. She also has the kindest, most sensitive spirit of any of my children. She loves her friends and cares deeply about what people think of her–which at this stage of life has resulted in much more brand consciousness than Dancer Girl ever exhibited.
So, clearly, we don’t really overlook her, but I know that she often feels that we do. Soccer Boy has been begging me to come take him to lunch, so I told him I’d do that tomorrow. Of course, he couldn’t resist promptly telling Gym Girl about our plans when we picked her up from practice last night. Her answer, “You’ve NEVER taken me to lunch.” That’s not true, but it’s obviously her perception–once again, mom is favoring the youngest over her. So, I’ll be making a lunch date with Gym Girl soon too.
I wonder if the fact that she’s gotten the first post devoted entirely to one of my children would help her feel better? Sometimes I wish this whole parenting gig was simpler. I am all ears (or eyes in this case, I guess) for any helpful tips you’ve got for making those middle kids feel special in their own right.