The Middle of What?
I read a comment the other day in which the writer mentioned being a middle child. In the middle of things is generally perceived as a positive thing, because who wants to be on the outside, looking in? I have three older brothers and three younger brothers, which is right in the middle of seven sons, with two “little sisters” mixed into our family baseball lineup of life.
Having three older brothers while growing up, is like having three directors running the show. Oldest brother Eric was unquestionably the leader, already taller than the rest, and accustomed to being at the helm of the ship (rowboat?). Brian was the smartest, the vowels of his first name having been accidentally reversed on his birth certificate, but Noel was the funnest, the one most likely to direct both of us into trouble.
Competing with those three guys, along with the usual competition encountered when younger siblings arrived on the scene, was a full-time job, and one that Mama reports in my baby book, that I pursued diligently.
“Look at me!” was what it was all about. I used to play this very fun (read, obnoxious) game called, “Touch me in five seconds I will...” fill in the blank with any of the following: “...give you a quarter...give you a dollar..give you a million dollars...” and the winner... “do the dishes for you tonight...do the dishes for you for the rest of your life...”
The resulting chaos of kids springing up from all over the room, from [mostly younger] siblings, was enough to bring me into focus all right, but not in a favorable way. Eric christened me Clown, or Clownie; Brian called me Babe or the Babe, and there was no connection to baseball; Noel to his credit, called me Markus Aurelius, since he was no one to be bandying pejorative terms about, having established new horizons himself, as far as mischievous behavior is concerned. *
When you talk about the middle, there are many negative connotations. Consider “middle brow” as lacking in intelligence or sophistication; “middle of the road” as someone who can’t make up her/his mind; “middle class” as someone who has crawled out of the lower echelon, but not made it to upper class yet; “middle name” as the unimportant one, the one that Mama’s maiden name always ends up attached to in some poor kid’s name. And how about middle-aged spread? There’s an uplifting thought.
Then I chose a career in the middle school, working with kids who were caught in the middle of being children, and being adults. It was a crystal clear case of the blind leading the blind.
Tack on the “middle of the pack,” the “middle of nowhere,” or the “middle of the pile,” and it spells average at best, and mediocre at worst. I spent a lot of my younger life looking for the real me.
Now that I have found him, he is no longer willing to be in the middle. He wants to be at the edge. He feels that if he is in the middle, he is taking up too much space. But there’s plenty of room on the edge, if you care to join me.
* See my blog under July for Fellowship Street: Sound the Alarm and Fellowship Street, The Plum Tree