You often hear about ‘Middle Child Syndrome’. Well maybe you don’t but I have read a bit about it. As I have a middle child. He is very precious to me, as much as the other two, but Middle Child Syndrome suggests he won’t feel that unless I make a special effort. He will feel invisible. More prone to depression. Have nothing special to call his own.
I have a tendency to believe all such ‘syndromes’ are, frankly, bollocks. We make out of life what we can. But still I occasionally ponder it. As I am now.
And here is why. This weekend I have been able to spend a bit of time alone with Middlest. This hardly ever happens. When he was born I already had Eldest, a demanding toddler at the time. He hasn’t really got much less demanding over the years. He is a deep thinker prone to over-analysing and over stressing. He sucks up attention. And that is not at all his fault. It is partly because he does everything first and so such events as starting Senior School seem a big deal to me as a parent doing something new as well as a big deal to him. When the other two do it I am blasé. And expect them to be so too.
By the time Middlest was himself a toddler Youngest had come along and turned our lives upside down. She is my only daughter and so my relationship with her is different. She gravitates towards me and always has. I can remember a period when she was about two when she would not let anyone else do anything for her except me. Flattering but exhausting. She had me all to herself for two years once Eldest and Middlest had started school. And those two years were amazing. We both had a lovely time.
And then there are three of them and two of us. Naturally Middlest is often in a pair if we split them up. That is because he is great mates with both Eldest and Youngest. They have hobbies in common. Middlest has never been left ‘home alone’ whilst the other two go away camping for instance. He is always one of those doing the camping with one or other of the other two. If you catch my drift.
When Middlest was little he had numerous outpatient clinics for various minor medical issues; eyes, diet, asthma. We loved those afternoons with appointments. I would pick him up from school and we would go off alone and sit in a waiting room together chatting away. He still fondly remembers making a dodecahedron out of plastic hexagons that slotted together whilst waiting in the Moorfield’s eye clinic waiting room. That must be five years ago.
Being able to have time alone with him this weekend is happening mostly because Youngest is at Cub camp and we are down to two children. We can divide and conquer.
So yesterday we walked to his football tournament alone whilst Eldest and husband went running. The walk lasted about ten minutes. They were a good ten minutes though. Of all my children Middlest is the easiest to have a conversation with. I am not saying I do not enjoy time alone with the other two but Middlest has this way about him. He is intelligent, perceptive and gently amusing. He listens well and makes thoughtful observations. He is eloquent. He is still young enough at 10, nearly 11, to care about what I say.
So in those few short minutes we discussed the EU Referendum and some of his friends’ frankly bizarre opinions on the same. We came to some conclusions. Namely you shouldn’t believe everything you read and hear. Unless I tell him something, obviously.
Today husband went cycling with his mates as is his wont on a Sunday morning. Eldest had some language revision to do so I took Middlest to town to collect his new glasses and buy a birthday present for his Grandma.
It was lovely. Truly lovely. We chewed the cud. About all sorts. Marijuana. Balconies. School. Scouts. Girls. The EU again. And our lack of time together.
I would love to spend more time with him alone. With all of them actually. Life gets in the way. It is hectic and full on. I must try harder.
Just as we pulled back into the driveway Middlest asserted that in our average week of chaos the only time he gets me to himself is on the drive from home to piano lesson and later back. That drive lasts about three minutes.
As he put it “It’s not a very long time, mummy, but I really enjoy it!'”
Me too, son, me too.