My parents had three children, all boys. I was the dreaded middle child. Not the preferred spot on the roster.
Just ask a middle child how it was growing up with one older and one younger sibling, and he or she will tell you that the middle child doesn’t have the inherent advantages of the oldest or the attention lathered on the baby of the family.
Now, I don’t want you to think I’m bitter or anything. I had great parents and a wonderful Leave-it-to-Beaver type of childhood, but the drawbacks of being in the middle are not to be ignored.
First there were the hand-me-downs.
Let’s just say I was no fashion statement. I could deal with this handicap, but there were others more severe with longer lasting implications.
For instance, being the holder of tools on all fix-it projects was an irritation, to say the least. There I would be, like a nurse assisting a doctor in surgery, tools of the trade in hand but unable to get in on the action.
They - my father and older brother - would call out a tool and I would slap it into the open hand. I did get to know every tool in the toolbox. To this day I can find any tool you could possibly ask for, but I don’t have a clue what it is used for. When something needs to be fixed, I just start handing tools to the nearest person and smile a weak smile.
If I did try to get out of my assigned role and ask what exactly was happening, or move to try and see over their shoulders, I would get "The Look."
All you middle children know what I mean by "The Look," that one-eyed Cyclops, silent three-second, over-the-shoulder stare.
Sometimes I was promoted to flashlight holder. This was a critical position if they were working in a dark, confined area.
Of course, if I didn’t stay completely focused and the light wasn’t exactly where it should be, I would get "The Look."
Another irritating situation arose from the fact that there was no remote control for the TV when I was young.
Actually, I should say there was no remote control for me. I, in fact, became the first known version of that device. A remote control with legs, so to speak.
My younger brother was too young for the job, and my older sibling was too big to argue with, so I would jump like Hop Sing on Bonanza every time the request came to change the channel.
(If you’re old enough to remember Hop Sing, then you’re old enough to remember when there was no such thing as a remote control!)
Whenever I heard someone say something like, “I wonder what is on Channel 4” or “I don’t like Milton Berle,” I would slide to the edge of the couch, ready to act.
I don’t mean to get off on a rant here. I think middle children try to live by the credo “Silence is golden.”
I learned to be quiet and practice the art of being invisible. It’s one of the few gifts you acquire from being a middle child.
So I’ll just sit here quietly, but if you should happen to need a tool or the channel changed, just let me know.