I’m the eldest of three kids. Growing up, many of my friends were also the eldest of three and all these families were just the same. There was always two children, then a big gap of five or six years. The middle child was always a boy. The youngest child was always a girl.
And the middle child was always trouble. Not done-by-the-police trouble, but class clown trouble, winding up your parents trouble, not doing your homework trouble. Yes, first and third children can do this, but I’d be willing to bet the middle one does it worse!
My own family and my husband’s family were no exception. My husband was the middle child, with an elder brother and a much younger sister. He was the one that caused his mum the most stress, for exactly the crimes listed above. She is always happy to relate stories of his teachers’ despair with his work (or lack of it).
I have a brother two and a half years younger and a sister nine years younger. While I was a right girly swot at school, guess who was lighting fires behind the chemistry block and getting lost on top of a mountain on a school trip? It wasn’t my little sister.
When I got pregnant for the third time my first thought after my initial excitement was ‘Oh my God, my son is going to be a middle child.’ My perfect boy a middle child. So far it all fitted the mould. He was a boy, we discovered the baby was going to be a girl. We were heading for phone calls from school, homework not done, unsuitable friends and horrible arguments.
But I’m pleased to say my lovely boy broke the mould. Smashed it into little pieces. After a couple of weeks of slightly under par behaviour following his sister’s arrival, he settled into his dual roles of protective older brother and fun younger brother.
And there he has remained. The one big difference between my family and all those families that went before is that we don’t have the huge age gap. Our family is perfectly spaced and maybe that is why it works. Or maybe my boy got just the right combination of genes to make him different from those millions of boys who have gone before him.
Either way, I am extremely grateful. The only downside of my middle child is that his brother and sister love him so much that he is the fundamental cause of their many arguments. But if that’s the only trouble he brings me, I’ll take it.