For a while, we were so happy with our family dynamic. We had two boys, Eldest Boy and Baby Boy. To us, it was perfect. Nothing is better than brothers! Then one day, shortly before our Baby Boy turned three, we decided that we were wrong. We could see more babies in our future. And we didn’t want to wait any longer. We were ready to add Baby to our tribe. Our Baby Girl was born about six months before Baby Boy turned four. That’s when, seemingly out of nowhere, Baby Boy stopped being Baby.
Plays nicely with Baby Girl
Baby Girl is seven months old now, but it took about five months for me to notice that Baby Boy had become Middle Child. But the dreaded Middle Child that I had always been warned about wasn’t what appeared. He is quiet and shy. He is content with what he has and doesn’t often ask for something new. Eldest Boy is home-schooled — he gets plenty of face time with me. Baby Girl is fussy and needy — she’s an infant. Baby Girl is typically my priority. I keep her alive. And Eldest Boy gets a lot of attention too. But Middle Child sits alone a lot. I had to adjust the way I parented, all of a sudden, for the new child I wasn’t expecting.
Middle Child is sweet and loving and has always been much quieter than Eldest Boy. But now I have to make a real effort to get things out of him. He gets very sad and doesn’t know how to express himself. He gets lost in the daily mix. And I totally get that! He is introverted like me. We both enjoy laughing and playing and being with people, but then suddenly, we are done. We just need to step back and refresh. Recharge is maybe the better word. And if he’s a battery, then I’m his charger. But for five months, his charger was occupied by another battery. He was distant and started acting out. He couldn’t communicate how he felt or what he needed. I now have to purposefully pull it out of him. And it breaks my heart.
Makes mess while playing alone.
But it’s also a great blessing. It means I get to make time to spend with just him. Eldest Boy will be working independently and Baby Girl may be napping, so Middle Child and I can snuggle on the couch and watch a show that he likes. Or we may sneak some ice cream. Or play with play dough. It doesn’t matter. Because it’s about what he needs, even if it’s only 20 minutes a day. Middle Child isn’t a bad kid, he just needs a special kind of love. And I am willing and able to provide it.
Plays alone quietly, away from everyone else.
It doesn’t take much to connect with your kids. They just need you. They feel loved and cared for when you take time to do something they enjoy doing. Middle Child may always be the middle child, but that doesn’t make him any less special. It just means that I get to make special time for him. I can never make him Baby Boy again, but I can raise him to flourish as Middle Child.
I hope he continues to want to be charged by me for a long time. Because a charger is useless if it doesn’t have a battery to charge.