Stuck in the Middle

By Annika Murray

Sometimes I feel sorry for my son, Alston. At 4 years old, he is smack in the middle of his siblings. We have the two oldest, Ariana and Alana, and of course the two babies, Ayden and Avary. Ariana and Alana are just 16 months apart in age. Ayden and Avary are just shy of 18 months apart. Then there is Alston, almost exactly 3 years younger than Alana. I try not to assign labels to the kids, but I think Alston may be suffering from a case of “middle child syndrome”. He is too little to be “big” and too big to be “little”.

Alston’s syndrome is most apparent on Saturday mornings. Alston wakes up to find that Ayden is still asleep. Since he has been conditioned to not wake up sleeping babies, he quietly exits the bedroom. Alston’s first stop is to visit his older sisters.

“Get out of here!”

Alston turns toward the door with sad puppy dog eyes. It is much too early to fuss. So he goes with his next best defense.

Knock, knock.

“Mommy, the girls don’t want me in their room.”

“Well, go back to your own room!” I exclaim from behind the door.

The doorknob turns.

“But Ayden is asleep. I can’t play in my room.”

“Alston, it is too early. Try to go back to sleep.”

“But the girls are up.”

“Tell them I said to let you in.” I say sleepily, knowing that this temporary solution will be problematic.

He walks back down to the girl’s room with a mission.

Alana screams, “What do you want?”

“Mommy said I could come in here.”

I hear an additional set of footsteps coming down the hallway. “Mommy, we don’t want Alston in our room this morning. We want to be by ourselves.” She says in typical Alana fashion.

This goes on for about 10 minutes, which seems much longer. Then I hear a door slam, and another. So I kick my husband out of the bed to go police the mishaps. By now it is late at 7:30 in the morning.

Alston comes back to my bedside. “Is it time for breakfast?” Oh well, so much for my sleeping in. Off to make breakfast I go.

The good thing about Alston being in the middle is that he rules the little people during the day. While the girls are at school, he makes it his business to let the little ones know who is in charge.

“Stop, Ayden!” “Mommy, Ayden has something in his mouth! Mommy, Avary is crawling on the hard floor!” And so on and so on.

Alston is so anxious to get “big”. Everyday he jumps on my scale to ask, “how big am I?” He is 38 pounds, but I say “almost 40 pounds”. Alston raises his arms in the air and says, “am I this big?” I say “yes you are.” He likes that. For some reason, kids are cutest when they ask how big they are. I smile every time that I respond, “you are almost 40 pounds!” It just sounds so big to him.

One meaning of Alston’s name is “ruler of the elves”. I was a little skeptical about naming him Alston for that very reason. However, when I think about it, “ruler of the ‘little people’” is most appropriate. It certainly gives him a sense of belonging. Everyone needs to find their place in the world. Come to think of it, some of the best things in life are in the middle, like oreo cookie creme! That’s my sweet little middle child.

Annika shares the chaos, the challenge and some of the cherished memories of raising a family of five.

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