Thursday, April 09, 2009

Passing Over My Middle Child Syndrome

As the middle child/black sheep of the family, I’m constantly being bombarded with bad advice from everyone else. This is despite the fact that I’m an independent 29 year old, and the ONLY ONE in my whole family (excluding BIL’s) that is gainfully employed. (My parents and sisters are “retired.”)

During our Passover Seder, a discussion over the causes/dynamics of middle child syndrome took place. Not surprisingly, it was focused on my personal “illness.”

This is My Middle Child Syndrome (MCS) Story:
Apparently, during the first two years before I was born, my older sister got all of the attention (makes sense). Once I was born, she was in her 2’s, was learning to talk and was learning to learn, a very important stage. At that time, I couldn’t really do anything. Baby’s can be boring, and thus tending to her needs continued to be everyone's focus.

By the time I had progressed to my own talking/learning phase at the age of 2.5, the older sister had moved on to excel at things like math, dancing, and stealing my parent’s attention. My baby sister was 6 months old, and was the new and final toy. My parents realized that they missed how cute my older sister was when she was 6 months old, and they never even realized I was around when I was that age, and thus cherished every minute of my baby sister’s upbringing. She was gonna be the last. I was the boy, I was complacent, I wasn’t needy, and thus, I wasn’t really there. This dynamic was the centerpiece of my upbringing, solidifying my status as having one of the worst cases of middle child syndrome possible. (middle boy between two sisters). It lasted for the next 16 years. My personality finally developed once I hit college. That’s when the edgier/jerk-of-a-Ben you all know emerged. Before then, I was quiet, nice, and somewhat characterless.

As a sidenote, my cousin Joshua, who may be reading this today, has MCS almost as bad as I do. He's the middle boy of 4 boys, with the youngest 2 being twin boys. Last night, his father gave an excellent example of how to prove the existence of MCS by discussing family pictures. He mentioned how many pictures he had of the eldest, obviously because he was the first, and how many pictures he had of the twins, obviously because they were twins, and the youngest. He said the number of pictures of those children, significantly overwhelms the number of pictures of Joshua. He's well aware he's to blame for MCS. My parents, aren't willing to take the blame yet.

My mom loves to tell little anecdotes my childhood to anyone who will listen. She especially loves those which are embarrassing and which I don’t remember. This voids my ability to contradict her terrible memory. Last night’s Passover Seder story fully supported my middle child syndrome arguments. It went something like this: “I always remember how when Ben was 5.5 years old, he came home one day and asked me why he couldn’t read when the other kids could? Of course, his sisters were reading when they were 4.5. I blame the school system b/c he went to public kindergarten instead of the Hebrew School kindergarten.” Sorry mom, I blame the parenting, the ignoring of the middle boy, and the creation of my MCS.

I just hope that my niece, who is now 2, will get the same attention her older sister got when she was that age. This is doubly important considering her older sister is a genius of sorts.

The fact that I’m not married, and don’t have a girlfriend, leads to some very interesting comments/commentary and suggestions from my relatives. Here are a few comments that I faced last night, never really sure how to respond:

From my almost 93 year old Grandma – “If you want a girl to like you, you have to pretend that you don’t like her.” - “You’re such a player grandma.” (of course, the only girls who don’t like me are the ones who I actually like).

From my Mom – "It’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich person as it a poor person, so you may as well make it a rich one. Of course, I didn’t follow that advice." – “That’s right mom, you went slumming.” (my dad’s an immigrant)

From my uncle, after telling him what my mom just said - “Show me a poor man who is happy, and I’ll show you and idiot.”

Apparently, my family wants me to find a rich girl and fall for her before I actually show any real interest in her. If I screw up that order, I’m bound to end up w/a poor girl, or a girl who I don’t like, or a girl who doesn’t like me back.

Considering this posting is mostly related to “How not to Screw Up Your Kids,” HERE IS another example of why you shouldn’t raise your kids in NYC.

My friend was actually involved w/the above guy a few days earlier, and messaged me about it today. . .
“That incident on the subway was scary, I was relieved that I had my two friends with me...that creep changed cars and followed us on the train, cornered us...and tried to hit my friend but she blocked herself with her one on the train tried to help us and instead moved as far as possible to the other side of the train. Unfortunately it was an express train so it seemed like the longest train we approached 8th Ave he blocked the entrance. I am glad I am alive to tell the story.”

This is the first article link I have posted in a long time. There are two good reasons for my laziness. First, the execution is a bit time consuming compared to normal posts. Secondl my BIL created HIS OWN WEBSITE, which is links based only, and thus, whenever I get one, I just email it along to him.


Anonymous said...


You are a true friend to and the staff over here at horshammed appreciates your support.

Anonymous said...

how is it possible that your family sounds EXACTLY like my family? "Its just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor man" - is that line in the jeiwsh mother handbook???

Mom said...

You're still the best MC I ever met. I have no guilt. OK, maybe a little.

Dad said...

You were the guy between two girls so you were quite different in that respect and that gave you your own advantages. It was amazing to us that despite trying to be gender neutral, you gravitated to car toys, building toys and competitive sports. That automatically made you different and special in our eyes.

I actually don't feel you need or should strive for a rich girl. You're doing quite well on your own and don't need anyone's pocketbook. Knowing you, more importantly is someone of substance who is not materialistic and shallow and has her head and heart in more meaningful pursuits.

Meistro said...

I forgot to mention the "You have 200 female friends, pick the one you like the most. No one is going to be perfect"

Mom said...

i keep rereading this post so I can incorporate it into my being.

Anonymous said...

Love the MCS story!!! so funny! I love you, Ben. I'm a middle child, too. (But I was the first girl, so I was special). It was Sherry who was neglected...... - SF Aunt

Anonymous said...

I have MCS too. Your story is almost exactly like mine, except I'm a girl.
Youngest children have no real age to grow up and act mature.

Anonymous said...

Hi ... i too am a middle son ... 2 sisters and 3 female cousins(only cousins i have) ... i really felt a strong pull towards your story in the sense that i feel exactly as you do ... im turning 18 soon ... yay .... anyways my story has some extras ... when i confront them with causing MCS in my life they burst out violently. .. yelling and such ... and they acuse me of just not giving a flying f@#$ ... im not as good academically as my older siseter was (20 this year) ... and i have bad lungs so i suck in sports unlike my little sister ... my father keeps telling me he will beat me from a inch of my life if i dont do better ... my mother pretends to care but when i share something with her it becomes public news for anyone willing to listen ... i have a girlfriend we have been dating nearly 2 years now ... i decided to end my shoddy treatment the only way i saw out ... moving ... her parents started to notice how mine was treating me and asked me to move in ... my parents are ofcourse not happy about this .. I dont know where to turn anymore in my house because we are a total of 10 people under one roof. .. so it gets hectic

I dont know if i classify as MCS though because they do notice me ... mostly to sh** on my head though