Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stuck in the middle with you

I remember the phenomenon from the days before my own family could justifiably be called "large." A couple we knew had seven children at the time. And try though I might, I couldn't keep them all straight. I could name the oldest three, and I knew the youngest two ... but those two in the middle, well ... they kind of eluded me.

I figured it was just me. Or maybe it was just them. After all, my mom is the youngest of seven and it's not like I couldn't keep track of all of my aunts and uncles. Surely it was just something specific to me, or to this family. I mean really ... their kids were like little cookie cutter cuties, each one with the same little nose, the same shade of hair, the same beautiful eyes. And honestly, they had a lot of girls. Who could blame me?

After a while, I figured out who was who. I even started to be incredulous at my own inability to decipher who was who back when I didn't know them so well. The differences were obvious, after all.  And seven, well ... seven isn't so many kiddos once you cross the invisible line between three and more than three.

Within the past year or so, however, I've noticed that the odd "floater" syndrome has been applied to my own family. And yeah, I admit it: I don't get it. To me, each little person is, well ... a little person. Not interchangeable. Highly individual. As unique as a fingerprint. How could you possibly mix them up? Or, worse yet, forget one?

And then it occurred to me. As we stood in the church lobby on Easter Sunday, all swarmed together and talking with folks as they exited the service, it came to me: it's those darn middle kiddos that get lost in the shuffle.

Somehow, the older ones make their mark. They are generally well-spoken, represent themselves well, and able to be of assistance to those around them. The younger ones get by on cute. Who doesn't remember the name or personality of the little moppet who grins at them behind their momma's shoulder all the time? But the middle ones, well ... they're just floaters. Neither older, nor younger. Not teen, not tot. Just ... middle siblings in the large family sea. 

It didn't take much to confirm my hunch. Simply listening closely to people's questions and comments was enough to seal the deal and cue me in to who was who in our family based on the observations of others:

The absent one

The responsible one

The smart one

Blandings Boy

The special one

The silly one

The littlest one

Logan, currently located smack dab between two sets of three siblings in either direction, is our Invisible Man. Somehow he's the most likely to be overlooked. If you are a close personal friend of our family (and hence, actually know the kids by name and not just order of acquisition) you'll probably find this fairly shocking. There's very little about Logan that says, "Forget me." He's the one most likely to make a splash, least likely to ease into wallflower mode, and yeah,  "inconspicuous" is not his middle name. He's our artist. Our cheerleader. Our Over the Top Man of the Moment.

And yet ... he's just "one of those Blandings boys." Not because anyone is being mean. Not because he's disliked. But just because, well ... there are a lot of us. And it's easy to remember the names of the ones you'd like to ask to babysit someday, or the ones who do cute things. But it's kind of hard to remember the slightly show-offy pre-teen who can't sit still.

The only hope for Logan is this: for his older siblings to become too mature to be interesting, and for the younger siblings to grow into a less-adorable adolescence.

Or to blow something up. 

There's always notoriety, after all.

Until then, he's just the middle Blandings. I guess there are worse things.


Karla @ Ramblin' Roads said...

Guilty as charged! I get your 2 older boys confused in my mind. I have a hard time remembering which one is Atticus and which one is Logan (or their real names, as the case may be). I blame it on the fact that I've only seen them in person a couple of times, not enough to know their personalities. Jo and Seven, easy-peasy... and I know Oli and Mannie apart because you got Oli first, and then added Mannie, right? And then there's this whole thing about remembering both sets of names... and keeping straight which are IRL and which are the aliases!

Please forgive me, Logan. I will try to do better. I promise.

Tara said...

Hilarious! I know we have the nebulous middle kids, too. The 2 middle boys are always confused with each other and sometimes the 3rd girl is forgotten, too. People always remember our oldest and Eon because he's cute and has Down syndrome, and then who doesn't love a petite, little baby? But all the rest are just "Lakes' kids". Sigh.

Kate said...

I have 5 boys close in age and I sometimes forget which one is which. I find it easier to call them all "Pete" which seems nicer than "boy there".

Charlotte said...

Well, there were only 4 in my family. 2 girls and then 2 boys, with a total of 4 years from the oldest to the youngest. We lived in a small town and I would often get 'You are a Leininger. Which one are you?' It doesn't take 7. He will make his way and it won't scar him for life. It will just give him stories to tell.

Jules said...

I'm guilty as charged! Our neighbor has 4 boys in 5 yrs. Our dd used to be their babysitter since there were just 3. But now the oldest is 14 y/o.

I can give you names for #1 & #4 on most days. But mostly I refer to them as a number. :( I'll try harder for you!

I love large families. I think if I had more contact with you or this lady it would be easier. MM9's kids all have names to me. :)