Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sandwiched Siblings: A Study in Middleocrity

If you're a Middle Child, welcome to
the club -- sandwich, that is.

         I’ll be the first to admit it -- I used to be a birth order bigot. I was so parochial in my definition of what was required before you could be called a Middle Child, I even went so far as to say in a previous post that Malcom wasn’t really in the Middle! Crazy, right? But there’s a simple explanation. I was a product of my upbringing. My views were shaped by my personal experience. Being the Middle Child in a family of three, I viewed Middle Child-dom through the most myopic of lenses. In my mind, only the very middle of an odd number of siblings was a true Middle Child. All others laying claim to the title were not worthy.  Pretenders to the throne. Since Malcom was the third of four brothers for the first five seasons, he did not meet the stringent criteria required to be considered a Middle Child in my eyes.
          Clearly, I was so blinded by the effects of severe Middle Child Syndrome, I could not see the flaws in my thinking. Does the third of four feel any less neglected than the second of four? What of the Middle of three who ten years later had another sibling? Surely she had been damaged enough in those ten years that she deserves to retain her Middle Child bona fides. Fortunately, over time I have come to see the light. As with all matters of great social import, my thinking has evolved.
          If there was any doubt that I have already given way too much thought to the topic, this will convince you. I recently analyzed the varying degrees of Middle Childness across the Middle Child Spectrum, categorized them, and then gave each group a name. I have even made a chart. (Yeah, I’ve definitely given this way too much thought.)

The Middle Child Spectrum: this is one time
you don't want a bullseye. Trust me.
          Middle Child Sympathizers: Sometimes, being a Middle Child isn’t a matter of birth order. It’s a state of mind. This outermost category embraces anyone with a Middle Child mindset -- anyone who has ever felt left out, left behind or left alone. Basically, anyone who has ever felt like a Middle Child.
          Sandwiched Siblings: If you’re not the first-born or the last born, there’s no two ways about it --you’re in the muddled middle. Every Mid Kid falls into this category, making it the largest group of Middle Children by birth on the spectrum. It seems only fitting as misery loves company.
          Co-Middlers/Shared Middles: In a family with an even number of siblings, there is no singular Middle, so two receive the honor. The good news? At least you’re not the only Monkey in the Middle. The bad news? You even have to share being a Middle Child!
          Smack Dab Middles/Middle Middles: In a family with an odd number of siblings, only one is the very middle of the Middles. They are the lucky winner of birth order Bingo. Or is that loser?
          Mono Middle: Welcome to the inner circle of Middle Children. Unlike Middle Middles and Co-Middlers, where the Middles can actually outnumber the first and last born, or at least equal them, a Mono Middle is on their own. They are an island unto themselves, always at the very center -- except, of course, the center of attention.
          Finally, you might ask, “What about a Middle Child who doesn’t feel like a Middle Child? What category do they fall into?” I say they are traitors, and there is no place for them on the spectrum! (Hey, my thinking has evolved, but not that much.)


  1. Very interesting. As 3 of 5, I spent my childhood deprived of the independence of the "big ones" and also denied the cossetting of the "little ones".

    However I have noticed more middle-childishness about my sister (4 of 5) and my cousin (3 of 4) and have sometimes wondered if middle-child-syndrome isn't IN FACT more a case of second-to-last syndrome (as you correctly identify, true middle children are the 2 of 3ers, who are also second-to-last).

    Yours in middling

    1. Wait a second... are you suggesting that we should give up our Syndrome? We can't even have our own Syndrome? We have to share that, too? (But you do raise an interesting point!)

  2. I would like to remove my husband - the middle of three boys - from the International Middle Children's Union. He has told me - his wife and middle of three girls - that he LIKED being in the middle and he thought it was easy.


Middle Children need to be heard!