First, I have a “Middle Child Syndrome”. Second, I always believe that I was an unwanted child. Well, these are two different concepts, but both stem from that single theory. (Oh, wait.) Let me explain later.
You see, I was born second to Papa’s first wife (my mom of course, who is also now somewhere not on Earth, bless her soul wherever she is) with whom he had a total of three offsprings. Before me, they had their darling eldest, a pretty, fair-skinned with huge round eyes daughter who had been an only child for four years. After a while (four years seeming an eternity) they have decided to add another one to their young family, a boy would be ideal, they thought, to complete the ideal set, of course.
Unfortunately for them, I was next. Ta-da! I was a girl! Another girl. The second one, obviously. Not so nice for them, I guess. So, even when I was just starting to walk, not more than a month for me to turn a year older, they had another kid. Ta-da! The fastest swimmer was a boy! Lucky them! A pretty boy at that, too! Oh how his sweet, angelic-face, and little curly brown hair and small lips made them cry. For nine months, I was just starting to ripen my charm with them when I eventually lost it to him who became the youngest for eight years until my mom died and my father remarried. He and his new wife had a little brown beautiful girl for thirteen years and Hans came as our present youngest. Never knew whether we were the only kids he got, though. (Kidding.)
So there. It seemed I had the shortest time of their attention, their care, and also (might) be their love.
According to Alfred Adler, this syndrome stems out from birth order. Birth order, the order of birth of the kids in the family. (You don’t say.) Like, the eldest usually has the power because of being the first (on everything) or being next to the parents but never really being an equal to them. The youngest has all the charm in the world because of being, well, the youngest, the baby (but could also be the weakest in terms of decision-making for example, no pun intended) sometime being the rebel for having too much of the attention, or being spoiled because parents seldom spank a baby even after it poops in their lap. And of course, the middle child (or children if they’re more than one) for well, just being there between these two.
I remember getting spanked (and kneeling down on salt, because we don’t have Monggo seeds) for shouting at my sister just because she’s older than me. (They said to respect the age, but I figured as we’ve grown apart, being respected never really comes with age, it’s with the attitude and the character.) I remember being reprimanded by eating something that was supposed to be for my brother because he needed it more than I do because he was younger than me (naturally, they said. Always give way to the young.) I even remember waking up crying after one afternoon nap and I heard my mom asked somebody to check if it was my brother crying, and when that somebody saw that it was just me, he went back to my mom and they did nothing. I was just 3 or 4, I think. I was just a toddler and I deserved some freakin’ attention, didn’t I?
Now that I remember them, it makes me…well…uncomfortable.
But much to their surprise, I excelled in almost everything. I was the brightest among us. I always ranked number 1 or 2 in school, never getting below a grade of 90 (except when I went to college, but give me a break, I went to UP for crying out loud!), I danced, I sang, I played musical instruments, won almost every competition I join, president of every freakin’ club I know, always an officer of the student council, president of my every class, I was the darling of my friends, I was popular too, among other kids. My parents never had to pay a single cent on my studies because I was always a scholar, even when I was in college, I can even lend them money from my regular stipend…, you name it, I always nailed things. I was the best in everything (almost)! (Except I graduated salutatorian in elementary and high school. And I wasn’t anyone’s first love, ever.)
(You see, middle children tend to be achievers because they need awards to be recognized by their parents.)
Since, Nanay died when I was seven, Papa became my universe. I do things best to make him proud of me, because I saw how he adored my brother, his only boy and did his paramount efforts for his eldest, his “key” to a better life. When I did nothing, he could only care less about me. I was just the second child. It made me believe these stupid jokes our neighbors used to tease me back when I was very little. They said I was just an adopted kid. Who wouldn’t believe it? Among us, I was the only one with the smallest chinky eyes, I was the brightest, and of course the least favorite of my parents.
They give me presents every time I end the school year on top of our class. They pat me on the back when I bring home the medals. I didn’t want to fail because they fail me, too. Like when I was twelve, Papa didn’t come to my elementary graduation after I flop to proceed first honor, despite me being on top for five years. And when I was nineteen, Papa didn’t even come to my college graduation (which is kind of disappointing for me until now.) I was jealous of his picture with his eldest, him with his entire and proud smile, standing beside his future teacher kid. (Now, where is she?) Ah, his “key” got lost when she married three or four(?) years after her graduation. He was of course frustrated, but partly, it was his fault. (Now, somebody else is enjoying the fruits of his labor.) (Off-topic but somehow related: the disadvantage of the Filipino trait “utang na loob” in the context of Family.)
(Finally, the second kid is no longer useless.) While their other kids can only do enough, I do almost so much. Maybe I wanted to show them what I can do more and make them regret that they have cared less about me in the past, that their favorite kids are not dependable (just yet) as I am, and they have made a mistake in expecting too much from the wrong kids.
Am I finally glad? Of course I am. This is my sweetest revenge! (*But this makes me feel evil.)
But honestly, I feel proud that I have been a good person despite of it all. (Research says that middle children tend to be well, psychologically and socially imbalance.) After all, I have found love and care among other things instead, like thriving in friendship, becoming a peacemaker (sometimes) and not losing a social circle. And I get spoiled (haha!) by a man who loves me despite being so “difficult”.
Finally, I forgive them for their lousy parenting style because I wouldn’t be here anyway, if it weren’t for them. Now I am here, and they depend so much on me, and despite the difficulties and this being a huge responsibility, I am honestly glad that they notice me now. At least, my efforts bore fruits.
They are my parents after all. They are my family, who never chose to give life to me but did anyway when they had me (at least I was not a mission aborted), who will always be there no matter what I am and what I go through so that even in my prayers I will always end up whispering “they are my life…”.
Now, I am an grown-up middle child and I just love how I’ve grown to be more independent and decisive, although I know that I am a bit of an attention-seeker but to be honest, middle child syndrome is terrible. Not my syndrome, I believe. I guess I was just exaggerating.