Thursday 16 August 2018

Kirsty Blake Knox: Why we must protect the endangered middle child

Lisa Simpson
Lisa Simpson
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

It’s always a little disheartening to discover you're part of a dying breed.

This month, I learnt that the Middle Child - of which I am a proud member - is fading into obscurity. Going extinct, kaput, kablam, we’re donzo.

According to the New York Magazine, the size of the nuclear family is diminishing.

Mamas and Papas are realising smaller families are more cost effective, and cutting out the middle man/ woman.

Unsurprisingly, this has caused a degree of consternation among the middle child community.

We’ve become an endangered species. Up there with the Giant Panda, the Borneo Pygmy Elephant, and the Yangtze Finless Porpoise.

Poor middle children - we have a tough enough time as it is already.

We are told we have a 'syndrome' and as a consequence can be resentful and withdraw, or needy. Or all three at once.

Our insecurities allegedly stem from the fact that we are neither the lionised eldest, or the doted-upon youngest.

We’re not the verse or the chorus - we’re just the boring "middle eight" bars.

The less showy, less memorable, “bridge” in any family anthem.

We’re the subplot in a movie that tees up everything nicely for the blow out finale.

If we were a Girls Aloud single, we would be See the Day.

If we were a hungover deli counter food option, we’d be a jambon.

Britney Spears
Britney Spears

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that Middle children are the ‘basics’ of the family unit.

There are obvious exceptions. Those of us who have become so spurred on by years of neglect they achieve monumental success.

Abraham Lincoln and Britney Spears are both ‘Middlers’. 

But most of us won’t go on to become historic icons with 22 signature fragrances to our name (Spears that is, not Lincoln).

That doesn’t mean the middle child should be wiped out.

I know I am biased here but there is plenty of merit to the middle child. 

Less demanding than the last born, and with none of the arrogance of the eldest.

We know our place in the pecking order and are (mostly) happy with it.

We tend to be good negotiators and mediators.

And that is sorely needed in any family.

Who is going to sort out family Trivial Pursuit/ Monopoly feuds? 

Middles tend are also self motivated - Lisa Simpson being a sterling albeit fictional example.

And being constantly undervalued means you are eternally optimistic.

When I was working in a dive bar one of my co-workers once told me as I was 'relentlessly positive'.

I thanked her, and then she delivered the most wonderfully executed jellyfish compliment.

"I think it's because you set the bar of expectations so low in life."

At first I was a little offended, but this is a classic Middle Child trope, and one that pays off in the long term. Expect nothing and everything seems like a bonus.

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