I keep coming across articles online about middle children that are really starting to piss me off. Big time. It’s just pandering to the stereotype of a middle child – the one thats always left out, the one that never gets new things, the one that feels unloved and undervalued.
What a load of crap.
I have three children and quite often before people would even congratulate me on our third pregnancy they would chuck Toby (the middle child in case you didn’t catch that) a sympathetic glance and say, ‘ Ohh your going to be left out’ or ‘Poor Toby, he’s always going to be the one stuck in the middle’ or my personal favourite, ‘No, you can’t have three children – think of the impact it will have on Toby – he’s going to really struggle.’
Firstly, at this point it was already a given that I was going to have three children – and there wasn’t anything that could be done about it, pregnancies don’t usually come with the backsy option. Secondly, at what point did this little growing bud suddenly mean I was going to loose my ability to parent and my capacity for loving my children was going to wain?
I am sick of the assumption that an odd number of children means an odd one out. It doesn’t. It means that your children will learn to take turns, learn to co-operate with others and, heaven forbid, learn to be considerate. At group activities or at school, children are expected to ‘get along’ with everyone, ‘play nicely together’ and adapt to their social surroundings. For some reason as a society we feel that this is perfectly normal and doable in this setting, but suggest an odd number in a home setting and, well, chaos will ensue.
I think what frustrates me even more about the whole ‘middle child’ thing is that it questions me as a parent. Why should I not be able to pay attention to all of my children in different ways. Take this scenario for example: Edith needs a feed so is on my lap having a feed, mean while, Reuben is sat with me completing that day’s homework (a reading book). This is crunch time – this is when it is MY job as a parent to step up and make sure that Toby isn’t feeling pushed out or abandoned… that is, if he notices that this is happening at all, because as a happy and content little boy, he’s usually too busy playing with his cows or pups to care what his siblings are doing. That being said, if he comes over to join in with Roo’s homework, guess what? We let him. I open my arm to him and welcome him into our little group, I ask him to watch, not touch and we read the words as a family.
Another thing that always surprised me is the materialistic attitude towards an odd number of children. I hear constantly how Toby will always be given Reuben’s cast offs, but as our third is a girl she won’t and that will make him resentful. Are you kidding me? He’s going to resent me for hand-me-downs? Well, forgive me for pointing this out, but what a materialistic jerk that would make him if, in years to come, he resents me for hand me downs! I would never see any child in threadbare trousers or tops, but I can tell you for a fact Reuben wore second hand clothes, Edith has second hand clothes and so do I! I plan to teach my children that clothes do not make you loved or unloved, material objects are not a show of love or affection, what really counts in life are actions.
Family doesn’t have to come in a neat, pre-packed box of only even numbers, and if it doesn’t that doesn’t mean that there is something fundamentally flawed with it. It’s like saying to someone they are being unkind to a single child – illogical and blatantly rude.
So, in short, leave my middle child alone. He will grow up to know that his parents adore him just as much as they do his siblings and he will flourish and grow daily.