I never paid much attention to the significance of birth order, but I found it’s something that influences our whole lives. For example, I know I’m a middle child but didn’t realize that a certain set of characteristics go with that. Some of them are very positive.
For example, we tend to be fearless. Well, since I’m a private detective, I’m accustomed to facing danger on a daily basis. Today, I’m going to see my accountant. We’re risk-takers. When we were kids, we’d be the first to jump off the garage roof with the umbrella. We’re edgy rebels and act as agents of change. As in my mother warning, “You better change that tone of voice.”
I paid the price for my rebellious ways, but I wasn’t consciously trying to cause trouble. It’s just that we middle children are seekers of justice. As in, “Why do the older kids get to stay up and I have to go to bed?” As crusaders for personal and social justice, it’s no surprise we make great leaders. Like the middle child leading the Republican race, we’re also master negotiators.
That’s because we’re good listeners. We’re open-minded and non-judgmental, so people feel comfortable confiding in us. (Just make sure to tell me that what you’re saying is “off the record.”) We want to make sure everyone’s needs are met. When we’re out to dinner, we’re worried someone in the restaurant might not be having a good time.
Sometimes our selflessness hurts us. Since we aren’t demanding about our own needs, parents tend to overlook us. We’re like the fly-over part of the family, with the parents focusing on their favorites. These impressive older and younger siblings overshadow us. We can spend the rest of our lives trying to catch up, but who can afford to buy a new Lexus every year?
Despite this mistreatment, we tend to turn out well-adjusted. Don’t ask me how. I mean, many of us are considered the black sheep of the family. We were the usual suspect when things were broken. We were punished with chores, which freed-up the other siblings to enjoy their lives of leisure and luxury. But since so little was expected of us, we tend to feel less pressure than our glamorous brothers and sisters.
With such lack of support at home, it’s no wonder we become trail-blazers — as in, “Get me out of this house!” We’re also ambitious, i.e. determined to have our own room someday, to wear clothing that still has the tags on it, and to sit shotgun on a family vacation.
Sadly, this fierce fight for our rights takes its toll. We tend to have low self-esteem and suffer from shyness. I was known for making mysterious exits from family parties. Hey, I was just trying to find my own space, as they say, where there was peace and quiet and I didn’t have to share my dessert.
We middle children do not yet have our own organization or self-help group. Yet. It’s only a matter of time.
When we do start the Forest Park chapter of MCA, I want to sit at, or near, the front of the room.
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.