My middle child is 9 years old. He has an older brother who is 11 and a little sister who is 5. My Aiden is smack dab in the middle of our family. I am the youngest of my brother and sister, and my husband is the oldest of his brothers, so neither of us have ever experienced the “middle child syndrome.” I will say this: as the mom of a middle child, it’s true. The middle can never have enough of his mom. Never enough of dad. But he does get a lot of grief from his siblings. If you are a middle, I’m sure you understand exactly what I’m trying to describe. I can’t say how it feels, but I think I have a pretty good idea of how it feels to be a middle just by looking at Aiden.
I will admit this–I parent Aiden the best in my family. Nate, my oldest, is my poor guinea pig of a child. We are learning how to parent with him. Each age and phase is new with Nate–we were the crazy neurotic first time parents with him, and then were much more relaxed with Aiden. And now with Tia, our youngest, we’re cherishing every age and letting her get away with more because she is our last. “But this is the last time I’ll ever have a child who…(insert whatever it is here: sleeps in a crib, uses a sippy cup, wears diapers, etc…)” I make mistakes with Nate, am way too flexible with Tia, but with Aiden, I’m good. I’m lenient where I need to be (but where I wasn’t with Nate and now realize how foolish I was), but punish where it warrants. He gets the perfect mix of parenting from us.
I’ll also admit this: sometimes he gets lost in the mix. He doesn’t get new clothes, new bikes, new anything. He gets Nate’s clothes, Nate’s bike, Nate’s old baseball cleats. It’s a good thing he’s a lefty because otherwise he’d get Nate’s old glove too. He uses Nate’s old backpack, has a pencil box for school with “Nate Styles” crossed out, and “Aiden Styles” written below it. Boots, coats, hats, skates, rollerblades…all Nate’s. Aiden adores his big brother, so much of this doesn’t bother him. A 9 year old boy doesn’t give too much thought as to where his hat and gloves come from, and he’s been eyeing up Nate’s bike for a few years now so he’s pretty stoked that it will be his this summer.
What Aiden really needs is more time. Everything in Nate’s life has an exciting to feel to it: it’s new and we haven’t experienced it yet. I’m not saying that we don’t find excitement in Aiden’s activities, because we do. We support him in everything he does and love him and cheer him on with a ferocity that is instinctual and wild. Tia, on the other hand, is my shadow. She clings to me and requires a lot me–and since she’s my last, I tend to give in. All Aiden wants is me. He wants and he needs my (our) attention. He craves time together, and cherishes it when it happens.
What I really want Aiden to know is that he makes our family whole. I know people say that about their youngest, that they “completed” the family, but I really feel that it is my middle who does that. He is so loving. So grateful. So kind. So incredibly hardworking. He loves from the bottom of his soul and it shows. He has a gift for making people laugh, making people feel valued, and making people think. He also has the ability to make us crazy because he is so laid back, but that is what makes Aiden, Aiden.
Of my three, I worry the most about Aiden. I feel incredibly protective of my middle, and I want him to feel more confident in himself. I want him to know that even though he gets picked on by Nate and Tia, we wouldn’t, we couldn’t, function correctly without his smile. His smile that lights up an entire room, his laugh that is contagious.
My middle, I love you. I love you more than you can ever imagine.
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