The Misunderstood Middle

By Natalie

It has come to my attention that being a middle child can be the pits.

My middle sister has always spoken out about the struggles of being in the middle, but as I was the baby, and had most things handed to me, I of course had no idea what she was talking about.


On a Tuesday afternoon Ryder awoke from his nap to the sound of his older brother kicking off his shoes, and chattering on about how he needed to get ready for swim team in an hour.

Thinking nothing of it I lead Ryder down the ladder of his bunk, to and from the potty, and straight to his afternoon snack. Where of course, in no more than 2 minutes he emptied his cup of water. Because napping is a dehydrating business.

After finishing his snack, and wrestling with Caleb, Ryder excitedly ran about the house when Dad came home. But Caleb was to be taken to swim class, and Ryder was to stay home with me.. Whom we’ll refer to as Chop Liver.. no, no, I get it. Three year old boy finds Dad and older brother riding on a longboard down to the pool much more fun than staying at home with baby brother, and nanny.

Just before the door shut Ryder excitedly pranced behind his brother and quickly waved back at me yelling “Bye! Bye!” And when I told him he was staying behind, and Daddy shut the door, the saddest little tears came pouring, and pouring out.

“Oh Ry.” I said as I knelt down. “We’ll do anything you want! Caleb and Daddy will be right back. And do you know who else will be here soon?” He looked into my eyes expectantly. “Mommy.” I said. And the tears stopped.

I grabbed his hand and walked to the playroom with him where I finally set Grant down infront of a toy car. Because that kid is on the move these days, and if you set him down for a second, poof! Before you know it he’s in the next room.

I set an array of toys, and books around Grant, and tickled him to hear that happy distinct baby giggle he loves to express. And then I looked up to find Ryder staring at the books, meandering around the playroom, mumbling new words to himself. And it hit me. Everything my sister has tried to express.

Don’t forget about the middle.


There he was sort of content, but more so used to the fact that big brother gets to go do big brother things, and baby brother has to be monitored to prevent little hands from finding the zillions of things that are choking hazard size, and the numerous amounts of bumps and bruises that could be. The fast crawling, wanting to stand, and lean on everything baby.. It’s like your eyes grow accustomed to realizing just how treacherous the world is out there two feet from the floor.

“Pick out a book.” I said to Ryder by the bookshelf. Where he of course picked out his same favorites and brought them over to me. I took my time reading them on the floor with him in my lap. “Does a kangaroo have a mother too?” He looked over at the floor mirror to see our reflection, and my facial expressions as I read. “Yes! A kangaroo has a mother. Just like me, and you.” And he loves that part because I give Yes a special infliction, and then point to myself, and then to him. Reading aloud is all about the dynamics.

So there we sat, happily on the playroom floor. Grant was occupied, and in view, and Ryder was getting all the attention he’d been craving. “Ryder.” I said, spinning him around. “You are extra special, you know. My silly, fellow curly headed friend.”


The other day, after a morning full of park fun we put Grant down for his nap, and stepped into the boys room. We sat down, and I pulled Ryder’s shoes, and socks off. Told him to grab his Giraffe off the dresser to nap with, and he ran back over to me on the floor excitedly throwing his arms around my neck, and squeezing.


And I knew it was his way of telling me he’d had a wonderful day.


How about, I didn’t even realize I matched him to his cup until this photo. Go me.

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