Calling all middle children! We actually have a day dedicated to us! Shocking, I know. We’re usually sort of the outcasts. The black sheep of the family. The forgotten ones. Some call it “Middle Child Syndrome,” and though that sounds negative, it may have some truth. We carry a unique experience that firstborn people, younger siblings, and only children will never know. I speak from experience when I say being the middle child is like having a front-row seat to my family but not necessarily being involved in what’s going on. Here’s what I mean.
Firstborns tend to be parents’ pride and joy – they’re the first project, the first experiment in parenting, and (hopefully) their first success in raising another human. The youngest siblings are forever the babies of the family regardless of how old they are. Parents are most lenient with them because they already know the drill. They’ve been through all the firsts and all the scares with the first children, so they feel comfortable spoiling the youngest. And only children are only children. I don’t think I need to elaborate on them. But us middle kids? Once our younger sibling comes along, it’s like our parents’ brains reset, and they only have eyes for their first and newest baby.
That sounds quite sad, but honestly, it’s not that bad. We aren’t purposely ignored… I think. We just learned to be self-sufficient as our siblings got more attention. As a result, we’re no cause for concern and thus expected to handle things on our own. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe there IS something wrong there… But anyway, middle children won’t be pushed aside any longer. We may not need anyone’s help and are fine navigating life alone, but a little recognition here and there never hurts. So to kick off this day that is JUST for us and that we don’t have to share with our siblings because it isn’t fair to them, let’s take a look at some memorable and legendary middle child characters.
A Series of Unfortunate Events was my absolute favorite series as a child. I think it’s one of the few very long series of books that I actually finished. So, of course, I must start off with Klaus Baudelaire. He’s the second child between Violet and Sunny and the intellect of the three. This is not to say Violet and Sunny weren’t smart. Violet was great with building and repurposing materials I personally would never think to repurpose , and Sunny was great at discerning when to use her sharp baby teeth. But Klaus had all the book knowledge they needed in their escapes and adventures. Violet and Sunny couldn’t have made it out of some of their situations without him. He was quiet and spent much of his time reading and slightly blending into the background, but that didn’t make him any less memorable.
“I’m not a lady. I never have been. That’s not me.” Arya’s a black sheep if I’ve ever seen one. Or a black wolf? She’s right in the middle of the Stark children’s birth order and the coolest, bravest Stark of them all. From the very beginning, she defies society’s expectations for her to become a “proper lady.” She wants to train and fight and essentially be one of the boys. It’s ironic that she goes on in the series to train as part of the Faceless Men – a guild in which the assassins learn to become “no one” in order to become anyone, all in the name of the Many-Faced God. A little on-the-nose for a middle child to literally disappear, put in the work to be forgotten and be whoever someone needs her to be. She’s legendary nonetheless and one of the most popular Game of Thrones characters in the series. In reading the book and watching the show, you’ll find yourself rooting for her the entire time.
Where do I even begin with Bob’s Burgers? It’s funny and a feel-good show that makes you feel how important the Belchers are to each other despite the constant jokes. You feel their love in all their antics, and Gene is definitely not left out. He’s the most hilarious middle-child, even unintentionally, and it’s clear he lightens the mood when other characters are stressed out. Though Gene does some ridiculous and, at times, annoying things for attention, there’s a palpable emptiness among the family when he’s not there. In fact, he seems to be Linda’s favorite child and shows that he’s not bound to the forgotten middle child bubble.
Here’s to our beloved and mischievous Alex Russo. Oh, how I wanted to be like her when I was younger. She’s the epitome of the middle child trope with her rebellious fashion, and snarky personality. She was definitely the outcast wizard of her family and much of the show revolved around her getting into trouble and figuring out how to get out of it. It was all fun and quirky misadventures until we got real in the Wizards of Waverly Place movie. After a competition to see who becomes a full wizard, Alex admits she needs help from Justin to save her family despite her teasing him all the time and pretending like she doesn’t. It was a touching moment for little 10-year-old me to see that even someone as cool and independent as her needs her family.
Stephanie Tanner is perhaps one of the most recognized middle children on TV. Being a middle child was essentially her entire personality on Full House and it was great. There was even an episode in season two that focused on the lack of attention she was getting compared to her sisters – and what she did to finally get it. (Spoiler: She “married” another kid and that definitely got her dad’s attention.) She made sure her family realized they were unintentionally neglecting her and that it didn’t feel good. She’s an intense, silly, and eye-opening character that made us middle kids feel seen.
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