I have posted a little about my oldest child, and about my youngest. But I also have a middle child; a long-haired free spirit of a person who is not scared of anything, except dogs. Daisy is happy to tell me, her father, either grandfather, both grandmothers or any other adult she encounters, that in her opinion, they are wrong. She climbs to the highest rung of any climbing frame and sits there like a pirate in the rigging. She loves to swing upside down, dress up, play Barbies, paint, eat chocolate, make me “cakes” in the sandpit, listen to stories, ride her bike and help in the kitchen. She is a whirling dervish of a personality, whose determination scares the living daylights out of me. Her qualities will be admirable when she’s an adult, but packaged as they are in the body of a four-year-old, they are pretty daunting.
I should have known from word go. Daisy surprised us by arriving while her father was downstairs de-icing the car in preparation for the journey to the hospital. By the time he had wended his way back upstairs, having paused to give neighbours updates on our progress, a little girl had joined us – in a big hurry. From the start she slept well, ate well, coughed loudly and dramatically, smiled hugely and embraced us all in a big rush of love.
Eighteen months ago, she went from being our baby to being our middle child. She adores her baby brother, and endures his nose-twisting and hair-pulling without lashing back. She lets him chew on her Barbies and pull all her toys onto the floor. For the first year of his life, she took out her frustrations on being usurped as family baby on me – temper tantrums, sudden inability to put on socks, needing to be carried along with the baby and the shopping, wanting to be fed, and other forms of fairly typical but nevertheless exhausting irrationality. Her other target was her big sister, whom she bit, hit, scratched and generally tormented.
Both forms of behaviour are gradually easing off, which is a relief for all of us. She likes to be a princess, and she is happiest if she has one adult in service (two would be better) who she can order about. At social occasions, she tends to find a victim, invariably an adult man, whom she flatters to distraction with her attention until he makes for the hills. Last week at a lunch in England, she latched onto one of Tom’s uncles, even following him to the loo and thumping on the door until he came out.
She is a BIG personality, but is caught in that invidious middle child trap of not being one or the other. She’s not the oldest, so she’s not as advanced, and she’s not the youngest, so she’s not as cute. We are trying to focus on what her skills really are and who she is, instead of of falling back into the categories of not-big and not-small.
I’m not a middle child and neither is my husband. Very few of my friends are. But I notice that there seems to be a hunger about middle children, as if what life has served up is never quite satisfying enough. Daisy tends to want more: more fun, more chocolate, more TV, more daylight hours, more Barbies, more of Mummy. I hope we can channel her hunger towards positive achievements (right now, her goal is to be an acrobat in a circus, with time off during the quiet months to be a pop star), meet her needs and satiate her with enough love. She is going to make one hell of an interesting grown-up.