Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The World's Worst Middle Children

Profiles in Middledom: #6 in a series, featuring Middle Children (real-life or otherwise) who have earned their place in the pantheon of birth order oblivion.

          From the “Tell Me Something I Didn’t Already Know” Department, more bad news for Middle Children -- like we needed more bad news. According to a recent report, “Research Shows That Middle Children Are Most Likely To Be Troublemakers.” Okay, I suppose that’s not the most horrible thing in the world. You can be called a lot worse things than a troublemaker. But a second report on the findings provides a decidedly more gloomy outlook: “Study Finds That Second-Born Children Are More Likely To Be Criminals.” Yikes! That’s quite a leap. From troublemaker all the way to criminal? Isn’t there some kind of middle ground? How about menace? Or rabble-rouser? Scalawag even. Heck, I’d even settle for pain in the ass!
          Granted, not all second-borns are Middle Children, and vice versa, so many of us are spared this fate. But here are some that definitely weren’t.

THE SUPREME MIDDLE CHILD: Kim Jong Un has established himself as a fearsome killing machine. His “Greatest Hits” include having one of his vice premiers shot by anti-aircraft guns for
dozing off in a meeting. Another vice-minister was forced to stand on a spot targeted for a mortar round during military exercises and blown up. And when an apartment building in Pyongyang collapsed killing hundreds, the Supreme Leader had the engineers and architects who designed the building executed by firing squad. An ex-girlfriend met the same fate. And according to reports, a special envoy to the United States and four foreign ministry officials were also “terminated” after the recent Hanoi summit with the U.S. didn't go exactly according to plan.
Even relatives are not spared. His Uncle was executed for “dreaming different dreams.” Now that's what I call a bad dream. To remove any trace of his existence, he also had his Uncle’s entire family eliminated. Oh, and a deputy security minister who was an ally of his Uncle was also executed. By flamethrower. But even more criminal -- Dennis Rodman is one of his best friends.

THE ULTIMATE INSTIGATOR: It’s not uncommon for Middle Children to stir the pot in search of attention. “Stop starting up with your brother!” “Leave your sister alone!” I heard it all the time when I was growing up. Sure, maybe Middle Children know a thing or two about pushing buttons, but Gavrilo Princip has earned his rightful place as a world class agitator. When he assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, the Duchess of Hohenberg in 1914, it sparked World War I.

THE WRATH OF THE MIDDLE KHAN: Genghis Khan was one of the most brutal and murderous leaders the world has ever known, responsible for the deaths of as many as 40 million people. After one particularly gruesome massacre, the piles of his victims bones were mistaken for mountains. He once disposed of an enemy leader by having molten silver poured into his eyes and ears. That’s one pissed off Mid Kid.
          Of course, you don’t become such a deeply feared and twisted figure overnight. His murderous ways can be traced back to his youth, when Genghis killed his half-brother for not sharing his food with him. Even from the grave, the Great Khan remained a deadly force. To keep his burial place a secret, he left instructions that everyone involved in burying him was also to be killed.

COULD THERE BE A WORSE NURSE? When 48 people died over the course of five years in the early 1900’s at the Archer Home for Aged People, an investigation revealed the deceased were actually murder victims, killed with arsenic or strychnine. The trail led to Middle Child serial killer Amy Archer-Gilligan, and not just because her second husband was one of the deceased. It seems many residents began dying only after being convinced to name her in their life insurance policies. And it couldn’t have helped her case when residents of the town reported she purchased unusually large amounts of arsenic to control rats she said were at the nursing home. Oh, there was a rat at the nursing home alright.

SOME MID KIDS REALLY NEED TO BE WANTED: Middle Children have lots of reasons to act out, but Middle Child Jesse James took it to a whole other level. Along with big brother Frank and their infamous gang, he robbed banks, stagecoaches, trains, and did pretty much whatever he felt like doing -- killing almost 200 innocent people along the way. So brazen were these badass bros, they are credited with being the likely culprits in the first daylight armed bank robbery in the United States during peacetime.
          Ironically, Jesse was killed by a member of his own gang who hoped to collect a reward on James' head. Instead, he was charged with first degree murder, indicted, pled guilty, sentenced to death by hanging, and then granted a full pardon -- all in one day. Oh, that’s fair.

THE ESCAPE ARTIST: The U.S. Department of Treasury called Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera (a.k.a. El Chapo) “the most powerful drug trafficker in the world.” Forbes magazine said he was “the biggest drug lord of all time” -- even bigger than Pablo Escobar. But only in his reach and influence. El Chapo, Spanish for “Shorty,” was just 5’6” tall. Still, he was a big time killer, claiming the lives of 2,000-3,000 people.
          As difficult as it was for authorities to capture El Chapo, it was equally difficult keeping him that way. Over the years, he staged escapes that would make fellow Middle Child Harry Houdini proud. After his first arrest, Chapo broke out of prison by hiding in a laundry cart. After his second arrest, he escaped again, this time through an elaborate tunnel system he had built under his maximum security prison. He was arrested for a third time in 2016, and has not escaped. Yet.

NOW ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS FOR THE MIDDLE CHILD HALL OF SHAME.
Send qualified candidates to midkidmusings@gmail.com, and I’ll add them to the list.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Joke's On Us

     When I was forwarded a couple of articles recently about a YouGov study that found the youngest sibling is the funniest in the family, I have to admit, I thought it was some kind of joke. A bad joke. I mean, I know that wasn’t the case in my family. I was definitely the stand-up sibling. The family fool. I once put raisins up my nose to make my sister laugh. Now that's funny. (It wasn’t so funny when I started laughing along with her and inhaled the raisins, but that’s another story for another post.) Granted, this study was conducted in the UK, so maybe things are different over there. And the study actually found that the youngest sibling is more likely to think they’re the funniest. There’s a big difference between thinking you’re funny and actually being funny, so that’s some consolation. But that’s not what was really disturbing about these reports.
     One of the articles was titled “The Youngest Sibling Is the Funniest, Study Finds, But Older Siblings Aren’t Forgotten.” Uhmm, I’ll tell you who is forgotten. How about the Middle Child!? The article mentions oldest children, younger children, even only children. But there’s NOT ONE WORD about Middle Children. Nada. Zilch. In fact, the entire YouGov study is focused solely on oldest and youngest sibs, as if the Middle Child doesn’t even exist. Now that is truly funny.
     The second article, “Your younger sibling is funnier than you (at least that’s what they say),” suggests there might be evidence to back up the claim. It cites Dr. Kevin Leman, New York Times best-selling author of “The Birth Order Book” and countless other titles dealing with birth order and parenting. In “My Youngest, There’s No One Like You,” Dr. Leman asserts that most comedians are the youngest children in their families. He lists Drew Carey, Jim Carrey, Charlie Chaplin, Billy Crystal, Ellen De Generes, Whoopi Goldberg, Goldie Hawn, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, and Jon Stewart to prove his point.
     Now, I’ve got no bones to pick with Dr. Leman. In fact, he reached out and offered encouragement for my #MidKidStrike back in 2013. So it is with all due respect that I take issue with the good Doctor’s claim. Granted, he put together an impressive team. I’ll give him that. I’m sure he spent more time than me researching the topic, but in the short amount of time I did spend, I was able to put together a pretty powerful lineup as well. 

    
     My Middle Child roster includes Judd Apatow (WATCH), Johnny Carson, Dana Carvey (WATCH), Dave Chappelle (WATCH), James Corden, Kevin James (WATCH), Martin Lawrence (WATCH), David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Ray Romano, and Amy Schumer. Take that! And I’m putting Jon Stewart (WATCH) on my team, too. Even though he was the youngest child from his father’s first marriage, his father had two more sons from a second marriage, so he’s technically a Middle Child. I’m sure I could find even more, but I’ve got better things to do with my time. Okay, maybe I don’t, but that’s beside the point.
     I don’t know why any of this should even bother me anyway. What if Dr. Leman in right -- so what? Who cares if most comedians really are youngest siblings? That hardly means most younger siblings are the funniest in the family, no matter what they think. Besides, there are way more youngest siblings that aren't comedians. So there. The whole thing is ridiculous. I’m laughing so hard, I’m crying.
     Or maybe I’m just crying.

Enjoy a few more laughs with these Middle Child comedians:
 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Spam Callers: the Middle Child Dilemma

     I am a prime target for spam callers. I see a number I don’t recognize pop up on my phone, and I start to get anxious. “Don’t pick it up,” I tell myself. “It’s spam. You know it’s spam,” I remind me. And I totally know I’m right. It’s probably that cheery lady who scares the shit out of me every time she calls when she says she’s from my credit card company, but then assures me everything is okay however “time is running out to take advantage of these great rates.” Or it’s likely that guy from some mysterious tech company who creepily claims to know “there’s something seriously wrong with your computer.” I hope it’s not the guy who greets me with a “Hi!” so lifelike and with just the right amount of pause built in before he says anything else that I actually say hello back and then feel totally demoralized when I realize I’m conversing with a machine. They’re the worst. Or it could be that woman who keeps calling me from Belarus. I know it’s one of them, or someone else I have absolutely no need to speak with. So I’m not going to take the call. Not gonna do it.
     But then my Middle Child insecurity kicks in. What if it’s not credit card lady, computer dude, that really friendly robot, or my Slavic sweetheart? What if this number I’ve never seen before is someone I actually do know? Maybe they got a new number and the very reason they’re calling me is to let me know that if I see this number, I should know it’s them, and not some spammer. Or maybe it’s someone I used to know. Maybe it’s an old childhood friend who has spent hours upon hours and tracked me down after all these years and desperately wants to reconnect. I’m just going to ignore their call after all the hard work they went through to find me? That’s messed up! How would I feel if someone did that to me? As you might have guessed, pretty terrible. With each ring, the doubt builds and temptation grows until it’s too much for me to resist. And that’s how they get me. Every. Single. Time.
     It’s quite pathetic, but totally understandable. It’s also nothing new. This goes all the way back to when I was a child -- before cell phones were even a thing and were just some crazy idea on “The Jetsons” or “Get Smart.” Back then, I was obsessed about getting mail. I wrote in a previous post about how I was always writing letters to politicians, tourism departments, television networks -- even NASA -- just so I could be assured of receiving a daily dose of postal attention in return. I couldn’t wait to get home from school so I could check the mail. There were even days when I pretended to be sick just so I could be home when the mail arrived. So is it really any wonder that I have a hard time not answering when my phone rings, even though I know there’s no reason to?
     If I’m being totally honest, I actually look forward to those calls. I like engaging my new spam-calling buddies. “Where are you calling from?” I’ll inquire. “What time is it there? How’s the weather? Can you hold on a sec while I finish eating dinner?” If they offer to call back at a more convenient time, I’ll insist it’s no bother while chewing loudly into the phone. One time, my imaginary meal got caught in my throat and I had a raging faux choking attack. That was fun.
     I particularly enjoy flipping the script on my newfound phone friends. After answering questions about everything from how many cars I own to how many TVs are in my house, I asked one curious caller if he would now answer a few questions, then I proceeded to inquire about his TV viewing habits, home ownership, airline preference, and more. He actually was answering my questions, until he got so frustrated he told me -- wait for it -- “I don’t have time for this!” And he hung up on me. I thought that was particularly ironic.
     While most people happily sign up for the “DO NOT CALL” list, I'll pass. Instead, telemarketers will probably place me on their own “DON'T BOTHER CALLING THIS GUY ” registry. But I hope not.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

There Is No Hope, Man

     Middle Children are always looking for recognition. It’s like our birthright. Our raison d'être. Of course, simple name recognition would be a great starting point. But all too often, you hear the all too familiar Mid Kid mantra: “They don’t even remember my name.” Sure, this can happen to anyone, but to a Middle Child it’s particularly debilitating. Just more proof that we don’t matter. More evidence of our invisibility. I cannot count the times when my mother, meaning to call out to me, would first call each of my siblings’ names before arriving at mine. Or what about the teachers at school that repeatedly confuse you with a sibling. It’s not just limited to family. There’s always that deflating feeling when you’re speaking with someone you’ve met before, whose name you remember, but you just know they have no idea what your name is. Even worse, I had a secretary (back when they were called secretaries), that always answered my phone, “Bob Hopman’s office.”
     I have always said Middle Child Syndrome is the gift that keeps on giving. You can be happily going about your day, minding your own business, when suddenly -- and without warning -- it will rear its ugly head. You might innocently stumble upon something from your past that you never before realized adds yet another page, or in this case another post, to your Middle Child story. Like the other day when I was flipping through my college yearbook. It’s been quite a few decades since I
graduated, and in all that time I never noticed this poke in the eye -- but there it was, literally staring
me in the face, right next to my Senior portrait. Bruce S. Hopeman.
     Nope, not me.
     I suppose it could’ve been worse. I mean, they could’ve called me Bob S. Hopeman. I guess I should be grateful? It's just a typo, right? But, still. I know I shouldn't take it personally. Bad proofreading is nothing more than an oversight. But that's the last thing a Middle Child needs more of.
     Like I said, this certainly wasn’t the first time I lost out in the name game. I wrote in a previous post  about not even getting top billing on my own birth announcement. Sure, I was given short shrift, but at least they spelled my name right! One could argue that aside from being born, what had I really done to deserve more than a mere mention anyway. But this is a whole other story. I mean, I worked my ass off in college and graduated summa cum laude, for what --so this Hopeman guy can steal the show? I do all the work and he gets all the glory? What a load of BS. And now I have to wonder -- did they make this same error on my diploma? Did I even legitimately graduate, or did my misnomer get my degree? It’s a hopeless feeling. Or should I say hopless.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Tourism Gets a Case of Middle Child Syndrome

Introducing “The Middle Child Travel Guide.”

The Spring/Summer travel season is here, and millions of eager explorers are ready to schlep their Samsonites to every corner of the globe. (Can globes even have corners?) If Conde Naste Traveler’s list of “The 10 Most Popular Cities of 2018” is any indication, most of these spirited sightseers will hardly be taking the road less traveled. Perennial favorites London, Paris, and New York City are once again among the top tourist targets. Slightly more valiant voyagers will lug luggage to Bangkok, Dubai or maybe Singapore. Oh, sure -- the favorites get all the attention. Every year it’s, “London, London, London!” “Oooh, Paris is so pretty in the spring!!” Meanwhile, dozens of deserving destinations go unnoticed. Cast aside, like Fodor’s forgotten Middle Child.
     Thanks to “The Middle Child Travel Guide,” now these overlooked options will get the attention they desperately deserve. Imagine Smack Dab travel experts all around the world bringing you the scoop on the best of the next best places to visit. Of course, you’ll have to imagine, because no way do I have that kind of budget! Instead, I will travel the internet and compile reports from people who have actually been there. And since even those destinations everyone knows and loves have sights that go unnoticed, I’ll make sure they get a chance to bask in the limelight, too.
     Of course, your input will help make “The Middle Child Travel Guide” even better. If you know of any destinations that are sorely in need of more tourist love, or if you know of sights that don’t get seen enough, let me know and I’ll make sure to include them in a future post. (E-mail me at midkidmusings@gmail.com, or comment below.) For now, we’ll start with a destination in France that’s not Paris. Incroyable!
Lyon: France's Enfant du Milieu
     Middle Children know what it’s like always being compared to a more beloved sibling. So how can France’s third largest city compete with the home to three of the top ten most popular tourist attractions in the world according to TripAdvisor? Well, while the Eiffel Tower casts a looooong shadow, Lyon is no slouch when it comes to memorable monuments. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with more than 160 buildings classified as Historic Monuments, including its very own (and less crowded) Notre Dame -- which according to Anthony Bourdain “is simply a more beautiful church.”
It's All a Facade: those buildings aren't real. It's a mural!
     Paris may have some of the greatest museums in the world, but in Lyon you don’t have to even enter a building to see amazing artwork -- it’s actually on the building. CitéCréation has more than 150 trompe-l’oeil murals on buildings all around town. Paris has none. The Seine is a lovely river, but Lyon has two -- the Rhône and the Saône. That also means Lyon has twice as many Left Banks and Right Banks. But who’s counting?
     Lyon also has their own unique version of a bistro. They’re called bouchons. In all of France there are only about 20 officially certified bouchons -- all in Lyon. And speaking of food, Lyon is the home of the late Paul Bocuse, a.k.a. “The Pope of French Cuisine.” In fact, many call Lyon “The Culinary Capital of France.” It’s certainly worth finding out if they’re right.
     Paris does kick Lyon’s ass when it comes to crowds. It’s one of the most crowded cities in the world. Lyon, on the other hand, is five times smaller than Paris and much less crowded. Oh, and it’s less expensive. Of course, you don’t have to choose between the two. Lyon is under 5 hours from Paris by car, around 2 hours by train, or you can catch a non-stop flight and be there in less than an hour.
     For even more reasons why Lyon deserves your attention, check out these links:

And here’s a link to the Lyon tourism site.

DISCLAIMER: “The Middle Child Travel Guide” isn’t a REAL book. I created that cover,
but the background image is a planner available from Chronicle Books.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Share Your #middlechildmoment!

     It seems Middle Children have a way of letting the world know we’re Middle Children, without saying a word. A former co-worker sent me this dead giveaway, an obvious #middlechildmoment. If the middle swing wasn’t enough of a clue, the wardrobe choice removes any remaining doubt -- no ifs or ands. Just plenty of butt.


      Send your #middlechildmoment to me at midkidmusings@gmail.com, and I'll post it here on the blog, at the Smack Dab page on Facebook, and on Twitter @midkidmusings.

CLICK HERE to see another classic #middlechildmoment 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Middle Child DOUBLE Jeopardy!

     I’m starting to wonder if Alex Trebek is a Middle Child. (He’s not, by the way.) For the second time in less than six months, there was some Middle Child action on “Jeopardy!” Back in November during the Teen Tournament, we were a mere mention in the “SIBLINGS” category. (WATCH HERE)
     But on March 19 (Season 35/Ep. 137), we graduated to the big leagues -- we got a whole category! And this was a game with real grownups, not a bunch of annoyingly smart teens. The category was “TV’s MIDDLE CHILD,” and if you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ve seen all the answers before. I mean questions. (SPOILER ALERT: Jan Brady was not one of them!) In case you missed it, here’s the only part of the show that mattered:


     Okay, so it wasn’t the most challenging category, but that’s not the point. We’re making progress. First an answer, then a category -- it’s only a matter of time before we get a whole board! Oh wait, we already have. CLICK HERE to play “Middle Child Jeopardy!”

Sunday, March 17, 2019

A Toast to Famous Irish Middle Children

Profiles in Middledom, St. Patrick’s Day Edition: #5 in a series, featuring Middle Children (real-life or otherwise) who have earned their place in the pantheon of birth order oblivion.

     In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I was going to compile a list of the world’s most famous Irish Middle Children. To keep the list to a manageable size, I figured I would only include Middle Children who were actually born in Ireland. And speaking of manageable size -- I thought finding famous Irish-born Middle Children would be pretty easy, what with all the talk over the years about “large Irish families.” But it turns out, that’s not the case so much anymore. According to the Irish Independent, “Just 40 or 50 years ago, families with seven or more children were a normal part of daily life.” In 1971, around 15,000 families had six or more children -- by 2015 there were just 3,000. While the fertility rate in Ireland was 4 in 1963, today it’s under 2. The world rate is around 2.5. But I digress. The list, right -- the list.
Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness: he made
a name for himself, one pint at a time.
     While St. Patrick himself was not a Middle Child, I still was on my way to compiling a list of some pretty impressive names: poet/playwright Oscar Wilde; explorer Ernest Shackleton; singer Shuhada' Davitt (formerly Sinead O’Connor); “Dracula” author Bram Stoker; actor Liam Neeson. But then I came across an Irish Middle Child so fitting for my St. Patrick’s Day tribute, suddenly it seemed like no others mattered. (What Middle Child hasn’t felt like that before?) A name as synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day as shamrocks and, depending on where you live, green bagels: Guinness. Yeah, that Guinness. Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, Baronet of Ashford, to be specific. Grandson of the founder of the company responsible for brewing Ireland’s most famous drink. In 1855, he assumed control of the brewery, developed a booming export business, and is credited with making the stout brand famous worldwide. So much so, he was reported to be the richest man in Ireland in his day. And the rest is Middle Child history.
     Fortune magazine says, “Walk into your local liquor store and you could be forgiven for thinking St. Patrick’s Day was created by Guinness. It’s the day for Ireland’s favorite beer to shine -- and 13 million pints of the stout will be consumed in those 24 hours.” Of course, what good would a Middle Child success story be without a dose of MidKid whining, moaning, and self-loathing. So here goes.
     While Guinness is always on various lists of “Best Irish Beers to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day With,” it’s not the most popular beer in the U.S. on St. Patrick’s Day. According to the YouGovBrandIndex, that honor goes to... Corona. ¡Ay caramba! Sadly, Guinness is no longer even the best selling brew in Ireland. Holland-born Heineken owns that title. Oh well, at least the bottle is green.

To find out more about overlooked Middle Child brews, read our Middle Child Beer Guide.

If you want a real Middle Child Beer for St. Patrick’s Day, readHere's to the Middle Child!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Difference Between Being “A” Middle Child and “The” Middle Child


The Golden Rule of birth order:
If you’re not the first or the last,
you’re in the middle!
     Not every Middle Child necessarily knows they’re a Middle Child. I’ve written about this before, urging Sarah Jessica Parker to embrace her Middle Child status, but I’m pretty sure the message isn’t getting through. Case in point: I was speaking to a radio host who told me there were no Middle Children in his family. I asked how many siblings he had and was told he was the second of four. When I informed him that meant there are actually two Middle Children in his family and that he was one of them, it was like I turned his world upside down! So if MidKids themselves aren’t even aware of their status, why would I think non-Middles would know any better?
     If my sister-in-law is any indication, they do not. The oldest of four girls, she didn’t realize her very own sister (my wife) was one of two Middle Children. “There can only be one Middle Child per family,” she informed me. And then there’s the former co-worker and father of five (and Middle Child himself) who was telling me a story about his own Middle Child. When I told him he actually had three, he said, “I never thought of it that way.” Aaargh. It’s an epidemic, I tell you!! But changing someone’s understanding of what it takes to be a Middle Child is no easy task.
     If I asked you, “Who was the Middle Child on The Brady Bunch?”  your answer would likely be Jan. Of course, you’d be right. And wrong. Sure, she’s “a” Middle Child, but not “the” Middle Child. She’s the Middle Brady sister and probably the world’s most iconic MidKid, but what about Peter, the Middle Brady boy? He’s no less a Middle Child, and it doesn’t end there. There were six siblings in the blended Brady brood, so after Carol and Mike got hitched, Marcia and Bobby became Middles along with Peter and Jan. In fact, Greg and Cindy were the only ones who weren't ever Middle Children.
     And what about “Malcolm in the Middle?” Yes, he was “a” Middle Child, but far from being “the” Middle Child. Malcolm was actually one of three brothers in the middle. It was just him and Reese until the end of season four when baby Jamie came along, then Dewey became one too. I guess “Malcolm, Reese, & Dewey in the Middle” wasn’t as catchy a title. So Malcolm got top billing, and Reese and Dewey were relegated to the trash heap of TV Middle Children. Talk about Middle Child Syndrome.
     When you’re “the” Middle Child, you’re on your own. It’s two against one. You’re outnumbered, on an island unto yourself. I have long argued it is the truest form of Middle Child, and also the worst. On the other hand, when you’re “a” Middle Child, at least you have company. That’s probably a good thing, because misery does love company. With four siblings, it’s a level playing field. Two on two. A house divided. And when there are five or more siblings (gasp), the Middles are the majority. Multiple siblings get to be “a” Middle Child, but no one sibling is “the” Middle Child -- except when there’s an odd number of siblings. Then one lucky sib gets to be the Middle Middle Child -- the birth order equivalent of a double whammy.
Don’t pay for some fancy
Middle Child testing kit:
Take our FREE test!
     I created a Middle Child hierarchical classification diagram in a previous post, but so many other factors impact how much of a Middle Child you end up being. I’m sure the number of Middle Children in your family has something to do with it. I would think the more Middle Children there are in a family, the less likely you might be to feel like a Middle Child. But that’s just scratching the surface. For instance, there has to be a difference between someone who becomes a Middle Child when they are eight years old versus someone who is two years old. Sure, you got all those extra years of being the beloved baby, but maybe that actually makes it worse when all that adoration is stripped away from you? Maybe it’s better to have the attention band-aid ripped off before you have the chance to get used to all the love.
     And what about blended families? Two birth orders get melded into one, and like the Brady’s, everything changes. I even spoke with someone who was the first born daughter then became a Middle Child when her parents adopted an even older daughter.
     Of course, if you don’t even know you’re a Middle Child, none of this will even matter, which brings us right back to square A. So to determine if you’re “the” Middle Child (or even “a” Middle Child), take this simple test:

1. Are you the oldest sibling in your family? If you answered YES, congratulations. You dodged a birth order bullet. You are DEFINITELY not a Middle Child. Go bask in parental praise and plaudits.

If you answered NO, proceed to question 2.

2. Are you the youngest sibling in your family? If you answered YES, you hit the jackpot. You’re the beloved baby! Have fun doing all the things your older siblings weren’t allowed to do.

If you answered NO, too bad. You’re a sandwiched sibling -- like it or not.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

This Day in Middle Child History: March 7

      On this day in 1970, former Yugoslavian (now Slovenian) ski jumper and Middle Child Vinko Bogataj crashed, rolled, splayed, and tumbled his way into sports history. The footage of his infamous mis-jump at the 1970 World Ski Flying Championships in Oberstdorf, West Germany, aired every week for decades on the opening of “ABC’s Wide World of Sports.” No matter how many times you see it, it's still hard to keep from cringing.


     While “the thrill of victory” was accompanied by various clips over the years, “the agony of defeat” was a constant -- Bogataj remained a steadfast symbol of colossal calamity and disastrous disappointment. He suffered a mild concussion and broken ankle after the crash, not to mention a seriously bruised ego. And to add insult to injury -- pun absolutely intended -- Bogataj was totally unaware of his newfound infamy for more than a decade following his crash.
"I am the greatest... Yugoslavian
ski jumper ever featured on the
opening of Wide World of Sports."
     According to ESPN,  he had no idea he was a sports celebrity and was completely surprised when he was asked to attend the “Wide World of Sports” 20th anniversary celebration in 1981. So just imagine what he was thinking when “he received the loudest ovation of any athlete introduced at the gala, and attendees such as Muhammad Ali asked him for his autograph.”
     Bogataj did return to competition the year after his crash, but sadly his career was all downhill.

How could I let this special day pass without paying a twisted tribute?
That’s right, I could not.




Saturday, March 2, 2019

Give Us Our # Back!

Rapper J. Cole Makes #middlechild Trend on Twitter

     I was so psyched when I saw #middlechild popping up everywhere on Twitter recently. “All my hard work is paying off,” I thought. “Finally, we’re getting some attention.” So you can imagine how disappointed I was to learn that all the fuss wasn’t really about MidKids at all, but about the release of rapper J. Cole’s latest track titled “Middle Child.” Disappointed, but hardly surprised.
     According to Genius.com, “Cole envisions himself in the center of the old and new generations of hip-hop, therefore making him the ‘Middle Child’ of rap.” The lyrics couldn’t be any clearer:

“I'm dead in the middle of two generations
I'm little bro and big bro all at once.”

     Tell me about it. It doesn’t get any more Middle Child than that. But once again, we’ve been reduced to a mere metaphor! And just to rub more salt in the wound, Cole only has an older brother and no younger siblings. Ugh. I mean, if you’re going to hijack our hashtag, couldn’t you at least be a real Middle Child?
     I don’t know, maybe it’s a good thing. The track is Cole’s biggest hit yet. It dropped on January 23, and by the week of February 9, it had already reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and #2 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. And the highly anticipated music video just dropped on Feb. 25, sparking a whole new #middlechild surge.



     So maybe I should be thanking Cole -- make him an honorary Middle Child or something. I mean, borrowed Middle Child buzz is better than no Middle Child buzz at all, right? But on the other hand-- can’t we even have our own hashtag!? We have to share that, too? #sounfair.
     Since J. Cole took our tag, I figured it was fair to rip off his rap for my “Middle Child” parody.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

New Zealand Deals With Middle Child Issues

I.M.C.U. backs #getNZonthemap campaign.

Mapmaker, mapmaker, make me a map...
with New Zealand on it!
     Recently, I learned of a global crisis crying for attention. Well, actually more like just a globe crisis.
     As reported by multiple media outlets, including a recent episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” it seems New Zealand is frequently left off of world maps. Granted, most people probably already have no idea where New Zealand is, but this only makes matters worse. (Actually, maybe that explains why people have no idea where it is.)
     Exactly how big of a problem is it? There’s a subgroup on Reddit called “MapsWithoutNZ” and a “World Maps Without New Zealand” Tumblr where you can find New Zealand-less maps from Ikea, the World Health Organization, and from other places all over the map. Oooh, sorry New Zealand. That was probably insensitive. Even New Zealand’s own government website left New Zealand off the map! I mean, really. The problem is so serious, the Prime Minister of New Zealand launched the #getNZonthemap campaign to help get her country back where it belongs.
Something’s missing, alright!: Even 
New Zealand’s website left New
Zealand off the map, for godsakes!!
     As the founder of the International Middle Child Union I knew it was time to act, so I have an important message for the people of New Zealand: we feel your pain! After all, Middle Children know all too well what it feels like to be left out. Forgotten. Wiped off the map, so to speak. So how can we stand by and watch an entire country get the Middle Child treatment? That’s right, we cannot!
     That’s why today, the I.M.C.U. is announcing its full support for New Zealand’s efforts to regain its rightful place in the world. Or at least on the maps of the world. We’ll be reaching out to millions of Middles and spreading the word on social media to “Stop Treating New Zealand Like A Middle Child!” (Not that it means much. I mean, I can’t even get Middle Children to recognize Middle Child’s Day. But it’s the thought that counts, right?)
      I am calling on Middle Children all around the world to stand with New Zealand as they struggle with this cartographic catastrophe and seek the recognition they deserve. It's a horrible injustice for a nation with more sheep than people to be treated like the black sheep in this way. Ironic, sure, and maybe even a little bit funny -- but a horrible injustice nonetheless.
     In closing, I’d like to echo the words of the late, great Middle Child John F. Kennedy -- and I’m paraphrasing here: “All Middle Children, wherever they may live are citizens of New Zealand, and, therefore, as a Middle Child, I take pride in the words Ich bin ein Kiwi! -- I am a Kiwi!”

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Greatest Middle Child Movies NEVER Made: 2019

I have my un-acceptance speech ready. And the Oscar doesn't go to...




CLICK HERE  to see “The Greatest Middle Child Movies NEVER Made: 2014”
CLICK HERE to see “The Greatest Middle Child Movies NEVER Made: 2018”

Friday, February 22, 2019

15 Memorable Middle Child Movie Moments: Part 2

Academy Awards Special Feature!

   And just when you thought it couldn’t be possible to top “15 Memorable Middle Child Movie Moments: Part 1.” Here's the rest of the best. If you know of any that should be included on the list, comment below or e-mail to: midkidmusings@gmail.com

            DAWN WEINER
played by Heather Matarazzo in “Welcome to the Dollhouse” (1995)
Older brother: Mark/Younger sister: Missy
     E! News says, “No other character better portrays #middlechildproblems quite like Heather Matarazzo's in the '90s classic, Welcome to the Doll House.” Her older brother is smarter and her younger brother is prettier. Mom always takes Missy’s side in disputes with Dawn, and Dad always takes her mother’s side in arguments with Dawn. Nobody is ever on her side! The quintessential Middle Child moment occurs when Dawn won’t tear down her playhouse so her parents can have a 20th Anniversary party in the backyard. Mom has Mark and Missy take it down -- and gives them Dawn’s share of cake!!

DASHIELL 'DASH' PARR
voiced by Spencer Fox in “The Incredibles” (2004)
Older sister: Violet/Younger brother: Jack-Jack
     What Middle Child doesn’t want to feel special? So you’d think having a super power would satisfy Dash. But living in a world where “Supers” aren’t accepted, his mom encourages him to hide his powers and be like everyone else. “But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of, our powers made us special,” Dash tells his mom. “Everyone’s special, Dash,” she replies. “Which is another way of saying no one is,” Dash mutters. That is one serious case of Super Middle Child Syndrome.

                      IVY WESTON
played by Julianne Nicholson in “August: Osage County” (2013)
Older sister: Barbara/Younger sister: Karen
     Ivy has felt trapped her whole life. She’s single and the only one of her sisters who never left home, so she bears the brunt of caring for her parents. The only person she can relate to is her cousin Charles. And boy, can she relate. She’s been having a secret affair with her cousin and wants to marry him. But Ivy’s Mom has an even bigger secret: Ivy’s father had a long ago affair with Ivy’s Aunt, Charles’ mom. So Charles is really her brother. Oy. On the plus side, it finally gets Ivy to leave home. Some Middle Children can’t catch a break.

              HOLLY
         played by Dianne Wiest in “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986)
        Older sister: Hannah/Younger sister: Lee
     Just by looking at the poster, you know which sister is Holly. Yeah, not the one in the middle, but the one off to the side looking detached from the other two. Hannah is a successful actress. Meanwhile, Holly’s acting career is in the dumps, so she’s super jealous of Hannah. Sounds about right. Yet she has formed an unhealthy dependency on her big sis, borrowing money from her and dating Hannah’s hypochondriac ex-husband. To make matters worse, much of the movie occurs over three successive Thanksgiving dinners. And everyone knows the Middle Child Syndrome Advisory alert is at the highest level possible when there are large family gatherings.
(AWARD ANNOTATION: Wiest won Best Supporting Actress for her Middle Child portrayal.)

     So far, the list has been limited to characters who were the only movie Middle Child in the family, but these co-star/co-middlers are certainly worth mentioning.

 JOSEPHINE “JO” & ELIZABETH “BETH” MARCH in “Little Women”
Oldest sister: Margaret “Meg”/Youngest sister: Amy
     The March sisters sure know how to get around. Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel has made it to the big screen five times! Strong willed Jo is the main character, exhibiting many of the same characteristics as Alcott, many say. Beth steps in to keep the peace when the sisters argue. Their Middle Sister bond is so strong, when Beth gets scarlet fever, Jo never leaves her side. Here’s the breakdown of actresses who’ve played the Middle March’s.

KATHERINE HEPBURN as Jo/JEAN PARKER as Beth in “Little Women” (1933)
Winner: Best Adapted Screenplay; Nominated: Best Picture.
JUNE ALLYSON as Jo/MARGARET O’BRIEN as Beth in “Little Women” (1949)
Winner: Best Art Direction; Nominated: Best Cinematography.
     O’Brien was presented with an Academy Juvenile Award (who knew this was even a thing?) for “Outstanding Child Actress of 1944.”  This happened before even filming “Little Women,” but she was a little woman at the time, if that counts for something.
(READ ABOUT how O'Brien's Oscar was stolen and found over 50 years later.)

 WINONA RYDER as Jo/CLAIRE DANES as Beth in “Little Women” (1994)
Nominated: Best Actress (Winona Ryder); Best Costume Design; Best Original Score.
SARAH DAVENPORT as Jo/ALLIE JENNINGS as Beth in “Little Women” (2018)
     This present-day update disappointed at the box office and with critics. EW.com wouldn’t even consider it in their ranking of Little Women adaptations.

SAOIRSE RONAN as Jo/ELIZA SCANLEN as Beth in “Little Women” (2019)
     The march of the March’s continues! Scheduled for Christmas 2019 release.

CHARLES, PERCY, GEORGE, FRED & RONALD WEASLEY
Oldest brother: William/Youngest sister: Ginevra Ginny

     So many Weasley’s, so little time. Let’s start with Ron. He’s Harry’s best friend, and clearly the most widely known Weasley. He’s appeared in all eight film adaptations, logging just over 3½ hours of screen time. Moving on to the lesser Weasley’s, troublemaking twins George and Fred also appear in all eight films. They may be identical, but not when it comes to screen time: George gets just slightly over 20 minutes, while Fred gets slightly under. Percy is the measly Weasley, only speaking in three films with a little over three minutes on screen. And then comes Charlie, the forgotten Weasley. He’s only seen, and his only scene, is in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” when there’s a glimpse of him in a Weasley family photo album. He’s not even credited. Ouch.

FREDO & MICHAEL CORLEONE played by John Cazale & Al Pacino
in “The Godfather” (1973)/“The Godfather: Part II” (1975)
Oldest brother: Sonny/Younger sister: Connie

     While Fredo was the middle Corleone son (see this previous “Profiles in Middledom” post), younger brother Michael was a Mid Kid tooEven though he “never wanted this” for his baby boy, when Don Corleone retires he still chooses Michael to lead the family. That's how little confidence he had in the feeble Fredo.
(AWARD ANNOTATION: Pacino received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for “The Godfather,” and a Best Actor nomination for “The Godfather II.”)


     In total, the actors actresses on this list have been nominated by the Academy 26 times for Best Actor/Actress or Best Supporting Actor/Actress, and have won nine times. Just four of those nominations were for movies on this list however, and of those only one walked away with an Oscar: Dianne Wiest. The rest were runners-up, which somehow seems fitting.

COMING SUNDAY: More “Greatest Middle Child Movies NEVER Made.”