Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Love in the Middle

"I get to hang out with Mommy, I get to hang out with Mommy," Danny chanted to Clare at breakfast yesterday. She was looking forward to a sleepover at Abby's, and evidently this was Danny's response. She and I just shrugged at each other, but I recognized both the sincerity and need reflected in Danny's words.

Just the other night, Tim and I discussed how easily the dreaded middle child syndrome (MCS) can rear its head. I cannot fathom how you can parent three children without its occasional presence. It's basic math: the kids outnumber the adults, so we have to group them in manageable ways. Sometimes that means Danny is a big kid, sometimes he's stuck with Laura. Not very often is he his own group, despite being the only boy. Wow, have we set ourselves up for a challenge or what?

I try to carefully discern between what is Danny's sensitive, emotional nature and what is the possible result of MCS. On the one hand, he is growing up quickly, often offering to help and clearly eager for more responsibility. On the other, he is quick to tears, needs lots of reassurance, and frequently chastises himself for perceived failures. And then there's the pesky baby sister.

I could come up with dozens of examples, but I'll go with the one that happened seconds ago, literally as I was typing this. Laura got into his room, and his bag of valentines, seizing upon a rice krispy treat and making messy history of it. If I only had a dollar for every time I've told him, "Sorry, buddy..." The fact that she says his name often, loves to bring him weapons to spar with him, and is cute as a button only goes so far with him. Though the photo above is somewhat telling about their relationship.

Aside from encouraging him to shut his door, and perhaps keeping better tabs on Laura while I'm on the computer, all I can really hope is that Danny rises above it. I am planning a date to his favorite museum this weekend, too, just the two of us. And while I know that this will not leap to mind the next time she destroys a Lego creation, in the long run I believe he'll feel our love to the very center of his being.

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