As soon as we had our third kid there was nothing we could do about – we’d have a middle child. Stupid math. In my mind I tried to tell myself that we would fall into the traps of creating the stereotypical middle child. Having two older girls and a baby boy, my second daughter, Evie, wasn’t the middle child, she was my baby girl. Right? As much as I purposely try to avoid it, she sometimes does get treated like the middle child. And I hate it.
Growing up, my family didn’t have any middle children. I had one brother, so the family dynamic didn’t extend beyond big brother and little brother. Simple. Easy. My wife is one of five kids, and she is squarely in the middle. To this day she speaks with resentment about the day her little brother was born and forever supplanted her as the baby of the family. One day she’s singing and adorable, the next day she’s too loud and waking the baby up. A new baby was born, as was a middle child.
Luckily for us, there is no resentment (as far as I can tell) from Evie toward the baby boy in our family. If anything, she loves him too much. She will hug him so much he’ll get upset and smack her. A good problem to have I suppose. But there are some situations where her being the middle child shows up, and it stings each time. Maybe more so for me than her.
Evie’s school has their Spirit Week recently, so the kids got to dress up in some fun way each day. A breakdown of what you were supposed to wear each day was emailed out in the weekly newsletter. A newsletter which I did not read. To be fair, between my two daughters being at two different schools, I get a lot of update emails and newsletters. But is that really an excuse? I mean, if I don’t read an email for work I can’t say that I didn’t read it because I got other email too. What bothers me more is that when my oldest daughter was first going through pre-school I would have read that newsletter.
My wife did read the newsletter, and did let me know which days she was supposed to dress up like what. Some mornings she leaves for work before I am out of bed, so she let me know the night before that the following day was mismatch day. Mismatch day for a 4 year-old – just let her dress like normal, perfect.
I did make more effort that usual to make sure her clothes didn’t match, which was actually pretty tough when almost all her clothes fall into the the general category of “Disney Princes Riding a Unicorn on a Rainbow.” She had a shirt under a dress that were different colors, pants that had different rainbows than her dress, and two different kinds of neon socks. Good enough. After dropping her off at school, I wondered what the next day was incase I needed to do a little more prep work than finding two different unicorn patterns, so I went back and looked at the newsletter for dress up list. I saw the next day was sports day – of which Evie owns nothing other than a pink Detroit Tigers hat which she never keeps on her head. I also saw that today was not mismatch day. It was backwards day. Ugh.
I couldn’t help but feel she’d been middle childed into not wearing the right thing. If it was our first Spirit Week, I’m sure I would have read the newsletter myself. Hell, we probably would have marked each day on the calendar so we wouldn’t forget. But this was our third Spirt Week at our second school, and I couldn’t be bothered to make sure Evie was doing it right.
I doubt she or her teachers noticed. For a unicorn pattern dress there really isn’t any difference between forward and backward anyway. But I knew, and it bugged me. She didn’t come home and say anything about it, but I wouldn’t be all that shocked if four months from now she brings it up. Her mind is a little trap that way – holding onto some some detail until her mind can’t keep it in anymore. Who knows how any of these middle child moments she’s locking away in there?
For the most part, Evie is very easy going. Sometimes to her detriment, and to the development of more middle childness. Her older sister definitely has a more dominating personality, so Evie is almost always one to go along to get along. Just the other night they each wanted to listen to different music at bedtime, and after a brief back and forth Evie gave in. On one hand I was proud of her for not escalating the situation, but on the other hand, I could see that she was sad about it. The next day I made a point to put on what she wanted to listen to, but not all situations can be made up so easily.
My wife and I outnumbers ourselves. We knowingly did this, so we can’t complain about the demands on our time or finances having three kids creates. Evie didn’t have a say in it though. She didn’t knowingly commit to the possibly of going to school dressed wrong, or eating breakfast by herself because dad has to go change the baby’s diaper and get him dressed in the morning. This morning I only know she ate all her breakfast because when she was done she took her empty bowl to the sink without anybody asking or reminding her. A kid who quietly does what they are supposed to do is a parent’s dream, right? Part of me can’t help but feel she has become that way because she doesn’t think she’d get the attention anyway.
I try to give each of my kids one on one attention, but when they are all together the oldest and the youngest seem to naturally demand more of me. I don’t do it on purpose, but I’m sure if I put a clock to it, she would have the least amount of daddy time. I take turns with my kids taking them out for dates with dad. This month is Evie’s turn. She hasn’t told me where she wants to go or what she wants to do yet, but I know my answer will be yes.