Middle child syndrome

Middle child syndrome

I am a chronic sufferer of Middle Child Syndrome.

There is no known cure, and there is no vaccine. There is no foolproof treatment for MCS. But there are different variations of this medical mystery. For example, with me, I am in between a sister and a brother. This is bad. The sister already paved the way for me in school by being a great and diligent student (which I was not), and my brother was, well, the crown prince of England, so he could never do any wrong ever. I never had a chance. Still don’t.

Another example of MCS is Husband #1. He has an older sister and a younger brother. This is a better scenario. His sister was the first born and a girl, and he was the first boy — everybody wins in that situation. And then there is Son #2’s situation. Son #2 is the middle of three boys. As a parent, when you only have three children and they are all of the same gender, you can say, “I have a favorite oldest, a favorite middle, and a favorite youngest.” I would like to say that saying that always worked and calmed everyone down, but like with every family, it didn’t always work and it rarely calmed anyone down. “But you like him better and dad doesn’t like him at all and etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.” Sometimes, as parents, you learn that there is no winning. Ever. With anything.

When I was in graduate school for social work, way back when before Google; when using a library to write a paper meant going to an actual library and writing on actual paper, I learned a lot about the personalities that emerge because of your place in your birth order. What I have always enjoyed about learning about things like this is that there are always exceptions to every “study.” Like when I am watching Good Morning America because I am a middle-aged housewife with no kids at home and I need the noise in my kitchen, a study will pop up on the screen about something totally random like, for example, walking. “50 percent of women who walked in their 60s were less likely to die of a heart attack.” Umm, really? Is this an actual fact? Who did they ask? Did they talk to women in their 60s who have suffered a heart attack? Were they walking at the time? This is why I try not to watch too much Good Morning America.

Anyway, back to graduate school. The firstborn is supposed to be the most responsible, less emotional, more studious — and the list goes on and on. The middle child is the peacemaker. More emotional. Less studious. And then there is the youngest of the family. Yada yada yada. What happens in families that only have one child? What happens in families that have six children? The following profoundness is my professional opinion — all those who are not interested should stop reading now (unless you have already stopped reading, and then it is a moot point.)

All second children, whether from a family of three, four, or 50, are the “middle child,” because they always come after the one who did everything first. And of course the parent will say, “Well, Teddy was walking at seven months, and we don’t know why his brother isn’t walking yet.” Son #2 arrived 15 months after Son #1 and the only “first” I remember him doing first was saying, “Hi Jack” at eight months. Poor kid, I guess that is all Son #2 ever heard us saying. (For the record, Son #1’s name is Jack.) But Son #2 knew that in order for him to garner any of our attention, he had to be a little bit more than Son #1. Son #2 did not sleep through the night like his brother did. Son #2 did not listen to us like his brother did. But there were many things that our middle child did that made him unique and special. Like when he told me last week that I do not mention Son #2 as much in my columns as I do Sons #1 and 3. And now you know the reason why I am writing about middle children.

Son #2, you ARE my favorite middle child. See, no matter how old we get, we still need attention.

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is and will always be the quintessential middle child, for better or for worse. It is all a matter of opinion.

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