I have a strange fondness for those weird and sometimes silly national holidays. Among others, there’s Nutella Day (February 5th — how can you go wrong with a day celebrating spreadable hazelnut goodness?), Margarita Day (another February holiday and perhaps a good way to get through the bleakness that is late winter), and Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19th — it’s one of my favorites!).
Today is National Middle Child’s Day. Really.
As child #2 of three kids, I have heard countless jokes about how messed up middle children can be — think Jan Brady in The Brady Bunch. Per the stereotype, we’re supposed to be jealous and resentful of our siblings and have horribly low self-esteem. We act out to get attention. We rail in rage and pain against the natural leadership of the firstborn and the innate charm of the “baby” of the family. Heck, there’s even a syndrome named for us, as if being born second were some sort of disease.
But we get our own national day of recognition — even though not many people have heard of it.
Honestly, I’m not sure how accurate the picture of a typical middle child is. In my case, I’m the only girl, two years younger than one brother and about a year and a half older than the other. It’s not like they were competing with me to be our parents’ favorite daughter, so we all had our own special place in the family structure. My mother is also a middle child, so maybe she knew how to avert the despair and angst I was supposed to feel.
With my own kids, there isn’t a true middle child: my oldest son M is followed by the twins E (a daughter) and C (a son). Since she was born four whole minutes before her brother, technically E is my mid-kid.
The dynamic, though, is completely different, and having twins messes with the typical birth order theory. While my son M still has all the responsibilities and challenges of the eldest (not the least of which was breaking us in as parents), I find that neither of the twins really fits into the mold of baby or middle child. Their identities seem partially derived from the fact that they have a twin sibling. For good or ill, other people often view them as a team. Some days they love it. Some days, well…let’s not talk about those days, shall we?
Perhaps it’s better that I don’t have a true middle child of my own. Then I can claim this day all for myself. And if that isn’t a typical middle child sentiment, I don’t know what is.
Where do you fall in your family’s birth order? Are you a middle child or do you have one as well? Do you think there’s any credence to the dread Middle Child Syndrome?