COLUMN: The Middle

Hello world, I am a middle child, YIPPEEEE!

The middle is an adventurous place to be although people often have weird misconceptions about us middle-borns. We’re often thought of as mixed up underachievers who are either overshadowed or overlooked. They say we’re secretive and unwilling to share our feelings and some statistics even say that middle children are exceedingly shy, super jealous and have low self-esteem. BAH!!

As a middle myself, I admit that I have resembled some of these descriptions but never without reason. Being the “Middle” wasn’t always easy. Some of you out there know exactly what I mean. You get tormented by the oldest and blamed for every mistake the littlest makes. NO IT’S TRUE!! Let me prove it to you. Come with me back to my fifth birthday.

It was the day I got my first real Barbie doll. Not some stinky old dollar store knock-off, the real McCoy, the genuine article, a blonde and voluptuous, proportionately incorrect Superstar Barbie. Oh, joy and rapture! I’ll never forget that day because the instant I opened the sparkly pink box my baby sister started screaming. She wanted to play with MY brand-new birthday Barbie and that traitorous mother of mine made me “SHARE” it with her. When you’re 5, sharing is so overrated! Who am I kidding, sharing is overrated more times than not,  but I’ll save that rant for another time. So, I was forced to share my Barbie before she even had time to breathe uncellophaned air — before I had the chance to try on her “real” movie star sunglasses and extra pair of pink dancing shoes. It took mere minutes before Barbie’s arm was in the little teethers mouth and covered in baby drool. YUCK!

And then it happened. Before the new Barbie smell was five minutes old, her beautiful, opaque, meticulously manicured plastic hand was sporting dental imprints from the baby sisters wickedly sharp infant incisors. OH THE HUMANITY!

That, my friends, was the first moment of my life that I actually wanted to murder someone and I didn’t even know what murder was back then. I slapped the dribble out of my baby sister and spent the rest of my birthday on lock-down in my bedroom. Poor, wounded Barbie was held captive on top of the fridge until the next day and I didn’t even get to taste my own birthday cake. That tragic story was a single example of life as a middle child and one of numerous milestones made traumatic by intricate plots devised by my evil sisters. It matters not that my little sister was only 2 at the time … it was a plot I tell ya!

Now let’s fast forward a few years to when my oldest sister told me how fun it would be to climb into one of those stinky, old-school metal garbage cans and roll down the steepest hill in our town. How I survived was nothing short of a miracle and the fact that I walked away from that incident with my head still attached was certainly divine intervention. I know I had an angel watching over me between the ages of 6 and 10 as I spent those years playing slave and guinea pig to the big sister. My thanks to you dear angel … wherever you are because I seriously think she was trying to bump me off! You see, not only did my big sis hate eating her veggies (she made me eat them instead) but her love for Kung-Fu Theater was equally intense. Every dreaded Sunday of my young life she made me play the bad ninja that “Killed her Father”. Needless to say I got the chopsticks kicked out of me on the regular until that much anticipated growth spurt hit when I was 10. No doubt from all the extra vegetables I was forced to eat. Phew!

Now let’s talk about the Mom. I know she loved me and still does, but she was so busy keeping my oldest sister out of trouble and alternately standing on her head to stop my little sister from throwing random hissy fits that I was often left to my own devices. I must admit that the lack of attention led me to develop some extremely useful skills. My imagination is off the charts … but that you probably already knew! I can negotiate peace between bickering sisters better than covert operatives from the United Nations. I’m super motivated by fairness because I know what it’s like being the monkey in the middle … literally. Also, my skills at delayed gratification are unmatched due to situations like this, “Oh honey, I forgot to tell you that your report card was awesome.” “Mom, I showed you it two weeks ago.” “I know but your oldest sister had her talent show and your youngest sister got her braces. It really was awesome though!” “THANKS MOM!”

Yes, life as a middle-born is unique and even elite. After all, not everyone is born a middle! Hey, did you know that more than 50 percent of all Presidents were middle children? Yup … it’s true! Some cutting-edge psychologist even claim that middle siblings are more likely to ‘become agents of change in business, politics and science’ and I tend to agree with them. You might be surprised at the long list of famous middle children such as Charles Darwin, Princess Diana, Ernest Hemingway (hey now!), Magic Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Madonna, David Letterman, Barbara Walters, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dalai Lama (no fricken way!), Abraham Lincoln, Sarah Palin, Bill Gates and Donald Trump to name a few. Underachievers my eye!

Although being the middle child can sometimes feel like an island of one, I would never give up my perfect spot, right smack dab in the middle!