What It’s Really Like Being The Middle Child
It’s National Middle Child Day this Sunday! The mere existence of the holiday is ironic since, middle children typically don’t feel seen, so having a whole holiday dedicated to them can feel unusual. But maybe that’s the exact reason they need one. Three is a funny number of children to have. If you have two, there is the oldest, and the youngest—that’s it. If you have four, there are the older two, and the younger two, and they can commiserate and bond over shared experiences. But when you have three, you have the oldest, the youngest and…the middle. It just doesn’t have quite the pizazz that oldest or youngest does. In fact, the middle child can feel as if both potentially good roles were stolen from her; she could’ve been the youngest, if the third hadn’t come along, and she could have been the oldest, if the first one hadn’t come first. Here are experiences all middle children have, in honor of National Middle Child Day.
Being an older sibling, but not the leader
You’re sometimes put in charge of the younger one, but the younger one clearly doesn’t respect you the way she does the older one. You aren’t the leader—you’re more like a substitute teacher until the leader gets back.
Being the younger sibling, but not the baby
You have to listen to the older sibling, and constantly be reminded that you aren’t the oldest. And yet, you still don’t get the privileges of being the baby.
The younger looks to the oldest for advice
The youngest one looks to the oldest for advice because, well, she’s the oldest. Sure, you’re older, but the oldest always (apparently) will have more wisdom.
The oldest only worries about the youngest
The oldest is always worrying about the youngest—how is she doing, is she succeeding, is she happy, does she need advice? But she seems to forget that maybe you could use a little help, too.
Your room gets converted
Once you’re all moved out of the house, your room is the one that gets converted into an office or a gym. Because, apparently, the oldest needs a place for her and her hubby to stay in comfort when they come home, and the youngest still needs to feel like she has her nest.
Excess funds go elsewhere
If you need to borrow money from your parents, you’re sh*t out of luck. They already gave some to the oldest, to help her send her child to the expensive kindergarten, and to the youngest, who was short on rent money.
Rules were shaky and unclear
The oldest kid had a lot of freedom because your parents were still figuring things out—what was and wasn’t okay for kids to do. You were the practice child for them seeing how the policies they formed, after the first kid grew up, would work on a child. So things were confusing and unclear. The youngest came into a world of clear guidelines.
Your name is the most confused
Your parents, naturally, call kids by the wrong name. But you’ve noticed that it’s the other children’s names that make it into the rotation the most. You’re often called one of their names, and they’re called each other’s names, but rarely is anyone called by your name—including you.
Not part of the double gift
Sometimes, your parents find gifts that come in twos—a set of bracelets, a set of stuffed animals—and the oldest and youngest get them. You get some random gift.
Your accomplishments can be underplayed
It can feel like your accomplishments are underplayed. The oldest gets attention for everything she does because she was the first child to do it. The youngest gets attention because she’s the baby and needs encouragement. Your accomplishments are apparently nothing major.
“Only child syndrome” causes all your emotions
If you are ever upset, everyone blames it on only child syndrome. It seems like you really wouldn’t have any feelings at all if you weren’t the only child.
You get the worst seat in cars/planes
When you were younger and traveling, you always got the worst seat in the car or on the plane. The oldest needed the outlet or the bigger area so she could work. The youngest needed the window seat so she could sleep.
You always had to share a room
When you came into this world, you had to share a room with your oldest sibling. Your parents had a smaller house at the time. By the time the third child came along, they got a bigger house, but of course the oldest child got her own room, and you were stuck with the baby.
The older and younger gossip about you
You just know that the older and younger ones gossip about you. I mean, since you’re closer in age to either of them than they are to each other, they’ve each gotten to know you pretty well, but not gotten to know each other as well. That means they each have the luxury of knowing all your flaws.
You’re the most independent
At least being the middle child made you very independent. You weren’t doted on. Nobody hovered over you. So you learned to be self-motivated. And, you learned to depend on yourself for guidance.