By Suha Abdelqader
You’re probably nodding your head already, because if you’re not one, you most likely know or suffer from one. Well, I most definitely am a middle child. The glove fits I assure you. In fact, today it manifested itself to me in all its glory: the middle child’s need for recognition; you see, I actually dedicated a cd to myself that is filled with songs that I would like to think describe me. I have waited for around 20 years for someone to even hint that one of these songs remind them of me; but wasted is the time spent thinking of what it would feel like let alone almost rehearsing the reaction. You might call it pitiful and I would strongly and adamantly retaliate that this is simply self-appreciation; my own pat on my back.
Being a middle child by definition means you have at least two siblings which mathematically yields a 33% attention share on the best of days. I am not blaming anyone or saying it is somebody’s fault that the very few photos for my toddler years are in fact partially mine, and I really mean partially since it is only a part of me showing in a packed group photo of siblings and cousins. Strangely enough, I actually get excited when they point out an arm in a red sweater and say: “Hey, this is you!”
You see, all other siblings have title roles which come with their own fringe benefits, perks and privileges: The Responsible Eldest, The Cute Youngest. We, on the other hand, get introduced using our number sequence: This is number 3. Believe it or not this never bothered me as a kid. I used the set up to my advantage; I could easily fly under the radar unnoticed and got away with lots of small stuff; and I say small stuff because with two siblings before me I steered away from major “projects”. In fact, I watched and learned in silence how the process of reward and punishment worked and was able to forecast reactions to a commendable level of accuracy. It is only when I grew up that I realized that being number 3 meant that I have to work hard to earn everything. Nothing came by virtue of position, nothing effortlessly brilliant because I am The Eldest and nothing magically adorable as is the case with The Youngest. So probably that is why middle children are referred to in textbooks as the Strugglers! How is this better than a number? Don’t ask.
But to be fair, there is always a consolation in the fact that the middle is the prettiest jewel in the necklace, you get to wear the different color to break the monotony, and the parenting theories have already been tried and tested on the older siblings. Middle is the glue holding things together, crushed yes but still important.
So may be putting the cd together was more of a reminder that you are what you believe yourself to be; don’t expect people to bestow self-worth upon you unless you feel it. I guess there is a actually a middle child in each of us, because we all like to stand out and be appreciated for what we really are.