Middle Child Syndrome: Fact or Myth?

Middle child syndrome is defined as “the belief that middle children are excluded, ignored, or even outright neglected because of their birth order.” 

As the middle child of a middle child, this is an ongoing argument in my house. Of course, those not in our exclusive club do not have the ability to understand that we are correct in this philosophy. 

My mother and I are both the rose between the thorns – in the middle of two boys. Let’s just say it is not easy to come by excess food. We are rather left to our own devices, to fend for ourselves or suffer the consequences.

I am going to start off with the pros of this compulsory club. Yes, there are some. Emphasis on some.

First of all, if you were to throw me and my brothers into a setting like The Hunger Games, I would most certainly win. If I learned anything from Katniss Everdeen, it is that resourcefulness overcomes brawn. I know when and how to hide myself or my possessions, depending on the severity of the situation. And I do not need a Peeta to help me do it. 

If I were to get kicked out of my house by some miracle, (it weighs heavy on my back, after all) I would know exactly how to take care of myself. Laundry? Done. Meals? Hand me the wooden spoon. Attack? I pity the person who tries.

Existing as a middle child means catering to the needs of others, but growing up revolving around the existence of my brothers – looking back, partially through fault of my own – had more trials than perks.

My daily schedule was not especially grueling. School and dance class was my life. However, my every waking moment on the weekends was dedicated to my older brother’s games. All year round, football, baseball, football, baseball. Go ahead and ask me how many I have been to. You will not get an answer, but it will be fun to watch my reaction. 

As for the younger one, the real star of the show, my spare time was spent crafting him in my image by accident and eventually getting annoyed by his tendency to copy my every move. I also put myself in charge of his exhausting need for entertainment. My cross to bear to this day. 

I found myself a little lost in the fray that was their lives, searching for my place. I did not ask for help, even when I needed it, and I learned to keep entirely to myself in an attempt to ease the stress on my parents. In hindsight: not a good idea despite my noble intentions. The emotional repression reached record heights. 

Here is where we get to the myth part of the middle child lore. If there is one word that could never describe me, it is rebellious.

The middle child is often misconstrued to be the wild child, causing chaos for the attention they feel lacking. I was more likely to hide behind my friends or tell my brothers they were being stupid. In essence, my experience is that middle children are trying to make the least amount of noise, and surrender to their wallflower role.

Rebellious or not, a middle child’s constitution is of the strongest steel, forged in the hottest of furnaces. The time in the silence of our own making often leads to extreme competence, as well as excess independence that provides for a rocky future of repressing help. But the emotional strength needed to survive and make your way, leads to ultimate destiny and potentially eventual world domination of middle children.

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