By MIA FREEDMAN
Never has a photo said so much. When I first saw it on Reddit this week where it was posted along with the caption: “The moment he realised he was now the middle child.” I laughed.
But I also got a bit of a tight feeling in my stomach. Not for myself (I’m the youngest of two) but for my daughter who is the Middle Child in our family. In some ways, she is lucky because she’s the only girl which gives her a unique status. She’s not the Oldest or the Youngest but she’s our only daughter.
Will that be enough to protect her from Middle Child Syndrome? I devoured Jo Abi’s heart-wrenching post about her own middle child over at iVillage last week where she wrote about how she’d always planned to only have two kids so as to avoid anyone feeling left out. But, oooops. When her eldest son was four and her second son was only seven months old, she fell pregnant again. With a daughter.
Towards the end of my third pregnancy I was incredibly tired. I tried to give both boys a lot of attention outside of feeding, clothing and bathing them but from my position sitting slumped on the lounge with my feet propped up by pillows, I wasn’t good for much more than that. Giovanni was 16-months-old when Caterina was born. All my intentions to maintain the same level of attention quickly went out the window as I battled fatigue, mastitis and tried to recover from my third c-section.
Giovanni was lost. He wanted me to pick him up but I couldn’t. He tried to sit on my lap as I breastfed his sister, but there was no room. He went from being to the centre of attention to being left to his own devices way too often. And I saw it. I knew it was happening but I couldn’t do anything about it. My tired and overwrought hands were full.
I taught him to sit next to me as I breastfed the baby and we’d hold hands but it wasn’t the same. Whenever Caterina slept I tried to have some one-on-one time with him, but there was only so much I could do. All too often it became Philip’s job to play with Giovanni so I could wash the dishes and cook dinner. My husband tried to help but he worked such long hours that his assistance was minimal.
I knew exactly what was going to happen. Giovanni was well on the road to middle-child-syndrome.
[you can read the whole post about how her Middle Child coped here]
Middle child syndrome is a condition in which children born in the middle experience feelings of emptiness, inadequacy and jealousy. It is also characterized by low self-esteem and extreme introversion, sometimes even leading to psychotic behavior.
The middle child, unlike the eldest child and the youngest child, is not given much attention. They have to go the extra mile just to get some of it. Middle children tend to be achievers because they need awards to be recognized by their parents. Sadly, this also goes the other way around, they can be very troublesome and determined to get noticed even if it means getting scolded at or punished.
If you’re a middle child or you have one, any tips? Care to vent?