Tuesday, September 25, 2018

"What Did They Do to You?"

          I was in the kitchen with my wife the other day, desperately seeking praise for something I had done that I thought was worthy of more fuss, when my wife looked at me and asked, “What did they do to you?” I can understand her asking. Something must have happened to me in my childhood that would cause the need to be lauded just because I helped her chop some chicken salad, she reasoned. It couldn’t just be because I’m a Middle Child.
          Of course I knew instantly who “they” were: my parents. But I don’t blame them for my chronic Middle Child Syndrome. Well, maybe a little. I mean, there is total agreement with my brother and sister as to who my parents’ favorites were. My brother was my father’s and my sister was my mother’s. Second place wasn’t as clear cut. I definitely got a bronze medal from my father, but I might have eked out a silver from my mother.
          Please don’t misunderstand. In no way was I mistreated by my parents. My brother and sister weren’t given things that I wasn’t. Other than attention. They weren’t awarded any special treatment by my parents. At least not that I’m aware of. My parents just didn’t have great favorite child poker faces. They were easy to read. Sure, there was that Middle Child poem my mother had taped to the kitchen wall in the house I grew up in. But I’m pretty sure that was just a decoy intended to throw me off.
          In order to avoid reliving this same problem with my own children, and especially my Middle Child, I have always been very careful to follow a very simple strategy. I simply act like I can’t stand any of them.
          By the way, I really am a very good chicken salad chopper.

Hear more at “Pay No Attention to this Podcast:”
My brother & sister confirm who were the favorites (at 17:50 mins)
A discussion of the Middle Child poem, and a rewrite (at 4:00 mins)

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Middle Children need to be heard!