Middle child…:)….(and err… a very long post..:D)
This post was lying as a draft…and a rather vague one at that.
Then I read Solilo’s heartwarming post..:)one which brought back a lot of memories..She described the relationship with her brother so warmly and beautifully.I saw traces of myself ..no I saw myself and my brothers when she described her own bond with her brother.:)
When she said Puchu,I remembered a day long back when a little brother was called ‘cheeku’by both his older siblings just so they could embarasss him:D
Thanks Solilo!:)((warm hugs))
So many memories came rushing back.
Like Solilo,I too was the older child or the first child,one of my brothers A was the second one or the middle one.
Cheeku:D was the youngest,the baby of the family.
Cheeku the youngest one in the family.:)
henceforth middle bro refered to as MB or A and youngest bro ref to as YB..:)
While growing up I never paid much attention to the fact that anyone was older,middle or youngest.I believe it was because I was the oldest. .I had been pampered for so long that I considered it my due.The first child,the first daughter on both sides of the family after a long time.Everyone on ma’s side of the family had always had a girl as the first child.They considered the birth of a girl as the first child, auspicious.
I was a healthy child..all tiny black curls and big eyes.Mom and dad were ecstatic.
I was the first.
The first child.The first baby out of a shared together.The promise of a future they dreamed of.
So I was pampered.Pampered silly.Every time I went to my Naanu and naani’s house I was treated like a princess.Every time I went to Daadu and Daadi’s house I again was pampered silly.Even though ,Daadi was not quite happy with a granddaughter (she had her heart set on a grandson)yet she never uttered a word beyond that first day when I was born.She could see that it mattered to her son and therefore it mattered to her.
MB was born a year after me.The family was complete ma and dad felt.A little girl and a boy.What more could one want?My little brother A,and I always think of him as ‘little’ was a frail kid.He had been sick and very weak when he was born.He was the quietest child ever.Even now when he ever falls sick,he doesn’t make demands of this or that to be brought.It is left to the others to find out of their own accord and go and sit with him and soothe him
Are these signs of the middle born?
I,on the other hand could not and still cannot bear being alone ..especially when I am sick.I rant,I shout,I make silly demands.I make sure that someone will always sit beside me when I fall ill.
Do you see the brattiness here?Touches of the first born?
I receieved both ma’s and dad’s attention for a year.Then MB came.and since he being a baby required a lot of care ,more so because of his sick health.I was entrusted to dad’s care.And so my bond with my dad is stronger than most kids have.
And A’s bond with ma is stronger than with any of us.Ma understands him like no other.She knows,just instinctively knows what this child of hers is thinking…of how he feels at any given time.She pampers him in her own little ways.and now that it has been so many years that he left homefor the Army,and only visits once in a while when time allows,this affection of ma gets even stronger.
I was rather jealous of this new entrant to the family.I wanted my mother all to myself.I wanted both my parents always with me.
One moment I would be in the garden playing,and the next moment within
minutes I could be found toddling my way towards the room where he was sleeping.I would have poked his eyes out one day had dad not rushed into the room and stopped me.I thought his eyes were fascinating and tried to get my fingers there…(don’t go eewww):D
As a result of this need on mom’s part to take care of a new born and my 24/7 company with dad some changes came about ,I now realize.
While I am and have always been close to dad,A is not that close to him.Or maybe he is but both of them are the quiet kinds,the stoic ones.Both do not communicate much.It takes me or mom or YB to get them to open up.:)
They reciprocate our hugs but cannot give each other any.Two stoic undemonstrative souls.Is it any wonder?
But it is only lately that I have started realising that these similarities might be due to the fact that they are both middle born.I mentioned it as a passing thought.Nothing more.And yet after reading Solilo’s post,I started searching on the web…trying to see if the birth order has any correlation with the personality.
And well..a lot of things rang so true..
We were and are a textbook family of three kids and a happy well adjusted,well balanced environment..Ma and dad gave us all the same upbringing,the same education,the same love and affection.We were and are well balanced and well adjusted kids.(atleast I think so)
I was just an year old when A was born.Even then ma and dad had spoken to me (whatever I could understand I suppose:D)about a new baby brother coming home.About how I would now have a playmate.They tried to prepare me in many ways.They were aware that I was so used to being the centre of attention and hence might be really jealous.After a few weeks I became rather protective of A.
When YB was going to be born,ma and dad prepared me and A amazingly well for it.We were told stories of how a little baby would be coming to the house.I and A even contributed ten rupees each to the ’cause’ LOL!!
For years since then ,I and A lived under the belief that YB had been brought with our twenty rupees…:D
And whenever he cried too much we would practically wail and beg ma and dad to return him back to the shopkeeper or wherever he was brought from.
We changed our minds every second day and sometimes we would both mutually decide that baby brothers were a nuisance and hence we now wanted a baby sister.:D
The point is that no matter how much one’s parents prepare one…for the arrival of a new addition to the family,a child will always have his or her own peculiar reaction to it.
Children have their own ways to cope and their own ways of dealing with things..
But yes,sensible and thoughtful parents as mine were can make the transition smoother and more joyous.To never ever differentiate between children even in the slightest manner…is a tightrope few parents can walk.
Dad and A both pretend to be indifferent to each other at times.They love each other but I have never heard them say it.Both are the old school men in a lot of ways.
And yet I see a certain similarity in dad and A.Both are the middle born.
A demanding nature and a confidence that comes from being an older child in me…a certain brattiness and a babying of YB by all of us,(specially after the last year)
A is the quiet one,has always been as far as I can remember.He never knew how to lie.Still doesn’t.
Me?I tell fibs like I invented the word.And I don’t even feel guilty.
A? A has a conscience that would never allow him to lie.
He being just a year younger than me was my constant companion.We both were inseparable. Even then A was the mature sensible one.He would report back to ma if he saw me eating mitti..And he was just a year younger!.He never threw a tantrum,never made demands.
If even now,ma and dad press him a lot to tell them what he would like ,he mumbles and tries to wriggle out of the situation.
He is unique this brother of mine.It takes a lot of patience to understand himand get close to him.I would like to believe I do know him.And I am close to him even if he doesn’t always say so.Our jokes,the jokes between the three of us that is..are well..quite the kind that we only understand..the kind that make mom go ewww…and dad laugh in amusement..
We have a language all our own.(Don’t all siblings?:))
No outsider can understand it.Not even mom and dad.
We blackmail each other like crazy.We have boxing fights.We scold,we rant,we push,we shove..and yet any threat and we are back together as one.
The youngest brother,the ‘baby’ of the family…that says enough on its own doesn’t it?
I and MB have pictures where both of us are holding a little baby who has tinyhands and feet,He is five years younger to me,four years younger to MB.
And so is it any wonder that YB has not one but two sets of parents?We pester him.We breathe down his neck.The poor fellow cant take a step without any of us not knowing about it.I and A look out for him.and now he is at an age where he hates it.:D
His Didi and Bhaiyya dont allow him to breathe he complains:D
He is a brat and he knows he is.:)
He revels in the knowledge.He always gets permissions to stay at places of friends.He is allowed to stay out late.he is also allowed late night parties.
Us?I and A were never allowed to have stay overs at places of friends.We were never allowed to get back home late.
A complains that I and YB are pampered..he is the poor soul neither here nor there.
I complain that A has always been able to do what he wants and I am always being told to be responsible.And that YB has been allowed to do all that I and A(MB) were never allowed to.
YB complains of being babied all the time..:)
Each one of us has a litany of complaints.:)however silly they might sound.
I now see how inspite of all things being equal(or so I think)each one of us..has very ,very different ways of looking at the same thing.
The same childhood incident will be remembered fondly by me,rather gloomily (where he was always discriminated against….whether real or in his mind..) by A and YB has no recollection whatsoever.
I do not hesitate to tell mom and dad if I want something or like something.
Not so the case with A(MB).He will never say what he likes or what he wants.No matter how much you try,he remains shut like a clam.
YB on the other hand literally demands things.No he is not a brat.But quite close to becoming one.He does not hesitate in spelling out exactly what he likes.And on top of that he has four adults to make those demands to.(you can imagine what financial windfalls he reaps)
I am close to my family.Very close.
Friends come a close second.
A(MB) is close to family but sometimes you might doubt his preference, so close his friendships are.
His alternate world consists of his friends.He has made a family of his friends
YB is a wandering soul.He cannot stay put in one place.He puts family and friends on an equal pedestal(or maybe he’s young right now)He is torn between both.
I am not a rebel.I want to be, but have never seen the need for it.
A is a quiet rebel.The kind who quietly does what he want without a soul getting to know of it.And by the time you do,he has already gone ahead and done his thing. The middle born traits?:)
A similarity between Dad and A…both joined the army to rebel against family…both wanted to prove a point.
Dad to his father ….…A to dad..
Don’t know what to call it.It just is.
The middle child does feel suffocated I now realize,they even have a word for it….’’The middle child syndrome’’..never paid much attention to it in my psychology classes….now I am re-reading it all.
The middle child even if by chance gets many things handed down.In our case thankfully this was not so.Because I couldn’t hand down frocks to him..:D..and mom and dad were aware of this middle child syndrome…Even so it is a rather tough job being a parent and striking a balance I suppose.
Sometimes it seemed like A was constantly struggling…to find his own niche in the family.A has always been an introvert.Thankfully now after going into the army,he has started opening up more.He can now converse with strangers too.Maybe because he has found his own place in the world.
A was on the verge of developing an inferiority complex…or maybe I am not putting it right…maybe it is more of an inability to assert oneself.
He has now changed and its a delightful one at that.
But as a kid,he felt sandwiched between an older sibling who was ‘responsible’ and a younger sibling who was the ‘baby’ of the family and hence the centre of attention.
He always had to fight to carve his own space,was always trying to search for his own identity.Or maybe the fight was in his own mind?I am not qualified to judge or comment.
I have never been in his shoes.The ones of a middle child.
Most of all I think ,he was trying to make dad see a lot of things.Even without realizing it ,he was proving a point to dad.
Dad is proud of this son of his…and very proud that he made something of himself…but he will never say it to A,I know that too.
This is the joke that we have among the three of us..🙂
a first born: OH i just got this GREAT new car!
a middle child: oh…i have to wait until my sister wrecks hers…then i can have that and they will get her a new one
Last child:I will get the latest model..
We laugh over it..
But its heartbreaking to realize just how many other children ,whether older younger or middle born go through so much heartache…convinced in their hearts that parents do not love them as much as the ‘other’.But all parents try so hard ,do they not?All parents strive hard to achieve that balance.I am glad mine did find it..:)
The Middle Child Syndrome
Tips for Helping Your Middle Child Cope and Thrive
Some studies have shown that children born in the middle display low self-esteem, have adjustment problems, often feel left out, and struggle with direction both in childhood, as well as later in life (© 2007 MSNBC Interactive). While this is not true of every middle child, because of birth order placement, middle children do tend to struggle with identity issues more so than oldest or youngest children. This can be associated with the fact that these children are neither the first born, nor are they “the baby” of the family; therefore, they may struggle more to find their place in the order of things.
Children who have strong sense of identity and once that is not related to their order of birth in the family, will have a better chance of avoiding the middle child syndrome
Middle Children: Finding Their Own Pride of Place
Oldest and youngest children can usually find reasons to be glad about their place in the family. Not so middle children. They often aren’t the biggest and strongest, they aren’t the babies who get away with murder, they aren’t really anything special, at least in their own minds. Sometimes they feel invisible.
But this uncomfortable feeling of not having a defined place in the family may actually turn out to be an advantage. Unlike first children, who often define success by their ability to meet their parents’ expectations, middle children are more prone to rebel against the status quo. This observation is the main point of a fascinating book, Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives, by Frank J. Sulloway. The book also argues that birth order–the middle position in particular–is one of the prime forces behind the scientific and social revolutions that drive history forward. I’d wager that most middle children had no idea that they were so important.
Though I do wonder now…what about families which are of our mom and dad’s generation?Where the children were more than two..even more than three….so what effect, known or unknown did all this have on them?With more than three children wouldnt it have been tough for the parents to strike a balance?
Would you like to know how my mom answers the question?:)
You know the one where we ask her(as do all children I am sure:D )as to which child of hers does she love the most?
She has this answer ready everytime..Smart woman ..my ma…:) (this is what I mentioned Solilo:)
A letter to my children
“I’ve always loved you best because you were our first miracle. You were the genesis of a marriage and the fulfillment of young love.
“You sustained us through the hamburger years, the first apartment (furnished in Early Poverty), our first mode of transportation (1955 Feet), and the seven-inch TV we paid on for 36 months.
“You were new, had unused grandparents, and enough clothes for a set of triplets. You were the original model for a mom and dad who were trying to work the bugs out. You got the strained lamb, the open safety pins, and three-hour naps.
“You were the beginning.”
“Dear Middle Child,
“I’ve always loved you best because you drew a tough spot in the family and it made you stronger for it.
“You cried less, had more patience, wore faded hand-me-downs, and never in your life did anything first. But it only made you more special.
“You were the one we relaxed with, who helped us realize a dog could kiss you and you wouldn’t get sick. You could cross a street by yourself long before you were old enough to get married. And you helped us understand the world wouldn’t collapse if you went to bed with dirty feet.
“You were the child of our busy, ambitious years. Without you, we never could have survived the job changes and the tedium and routine that is marriage.”
“To the Baby,
“I’ve always loved you best because while endings are generally sad, you are such a joy.
“You readily accepted the milk-stained bibs, the lower bunk, the cracked baseball bat, the baby book that had nothing written in it except a recipe for graham cracker pie crust that someone had jammed between the pages.
“You are the one we held on to so tightly. You are the link with our past, a reason for tomorrow. You darken our hair, quicken our steps, square our shoulders, restore our vision, and give us a sense of humor that security, maturity, and durability can’t provide.
“When your hairline takes on the shape of Lake Erie and your own children tower over you, you will still be our baby.”
– A Mother
The author is unknown, but it was submitted by Barbara Wiltberger for the series ‘Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul’
This is the curve ma throws us from time to time..:D
Isnt she one heck of a mother?:)