Monday, December 24, 2018

“The Middle Child’s Night Before Christmas” (2018 Update)

The Likely Author of “The Night Before Christmas” Was a Middle Child!

Livingston: All I want for
Christmas is some credit!

     While I was putting together an updated version of “The Middle Child’s Night Before Christmas(previously released in 2014), I found it odd that Santa’s 7th reindeer is named “Donder” in the famous Clement Clarke Moore poem, but called “Donner” in the 1949 Gene Autry song, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” So I did a little Mid Kid muckracking, and made a shocking unrelated discovery: Clement Clarke Moore might be “The Grinch Who Stole the Night Before Christmas!” The likely real author was a Middle Child! His name was Henry Beekman Livingston, Jr. Naturally, he wasn’t given credit.
     When the poem (originally titled “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”) was first published in 1823, it was submitted anonymously. In the following years, it was reprinted without attribution in countless publications. Word had spread that it was written by Moore, and in 1837 a friend of Moore's put Moore's name on the poem. When Moore included the poem in a book of his poetry published in 1844, he became accepted as the true author. It wasn’t until 15 years later when Livingston’s family first discovered Moore was taking credit for the poem they remember their father reading to them as his own as far back as 1807! They waited until 1900 before going public with their claim, and the issue has been debated ever since.
     In 2000, Donald W. Foster, a Literary Detective and Professor of English at Vassar College, argued Livingston was the true author. And as recently as 2016, New Zealand scholar MacDonald P. Jackson spent a year looking into the matter, concluding Livingston was the likely author. Good enough for me! (And you think I’m nuts spending a mere blog post on this?)
     While experts still debate who the real author of “The Night Before Christmas” was, there’s no question who wrote this version...

In case you’re still wondering, the names in the original 1823 poem were actually “Dunder” and “Blixem,” Dutch for “thunder” and “lightning.” (Which kind of makes sense because Moore knew German, not Dutch, and Livingston was of Dutch descent.) In a subsequent 1837 version, “Blixem” became “Blixen,” to make it rhyme with “Vixen,” and “Dunder” was renamed “Donder.” When Moore included the poem in his 1844 publication, he retained “Donder,” but “Blixen” was renamed “Blitzen.” Although “Donner” was popularized in the 1949 Rudolph song, the name was mentioned in the New York Times seven different times prior to 1949. So, mystery solved! Sort of. Not.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

New Middle Child Christmas Classic Discovered!

     “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” has become a beloved Christmas standard -- except for those who have recently taken issue with its portrayal of bullying and sexism. Well, they’re certainly not going be happy about this news.
     After years of searching, a select team of the world's best Middle Child Musicologists -- working under the direction of the International Middle Child Union -- have unearthed a never before heard version of the holiday classic which actually predates Rudolph. And the protagonist in this newly discovered rendition is treated even worse!
     Much like Rudolph, “Melvin the Middle Reindeer” tells the tale of a reindeer overlooked and cast aside by his furry-pawed peers. However, there is no happy ending for this reindeer reject.
     Music forensic experts have determined this discovery was recorded in the very same studio as the version made popular by Gene Autry. But it was placed on a shelf and everyone forgot about it.
     You can download and listen to the track from SoundCloud. They even found a video, which is really weird since that wasn’t even a thing then.

NEXT WEEK: The Return of “The Middle Child's Night Before Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Middle Children Can Be Very Animated: Part 2

     We continue our salute of those animated characters firmly perched on the middle branches of their family trees. In no particular order, here are the final honorees to earn a spot on the “Smack Dab List of Best Animated Middle Children.” If I missed any, let me know...

KENNY MCCORMICK (Older Brother: Kevin; Younger Sister: Karen)
     Like many Middle Children, Kenny has a habit of acting out. He’s been arrested 4 times -- once for prostitution, when he gave Howard Stern a “hummer” for $10. He’s also committed Proxy Murder -- together with Eric Cartman, they got Sarah Jessica Parker to dress up as a moose and took her into the woods, where she was shot by hunters. His criminal record also includes: copyright infringement, attempted murder, vandalism, assault, filing a false police report (when he lied to the police about his parents abusing him), cannibalism, kidnapping, violation of firearm laws, underage smoking/drug abuse, arson, blackmail, pedophilia, vigilantism, underage sex, indecent exposure, fraud, civil unrest/rioting, and breaking & entering (when he broke into Cartman’s house with Stan Marsh, Butters Stotch, and Timmy Burch, to remove Cartman’s kidney.) Okay, so maybe he’s taken acting out to the extreme.
     Kenny’s ultimate Middle Child attention grab is dying in nearly every episode of the first five seasons of South Park. He has died and come back well over 100 times across the South Park franchise, meeting every fate from being struck by lightning (Ep. 1/Season3), to being eaten by a giant reptilian bird (Ep.14/Season 15) -- yet no one ever seems to remember. In Ep.12/Season 14 he laments, “I go to school the next day, and everyone is just like, ‘Oh, hey Kenny.’ Even if they had seen me get decapitated with their own eyes.” You know you’re a Middle Child when nobody even pays attention to you dying!

DEWEY DUCK (Older Brother: Huey; Younger Brother: Louie)
     Along with his buoyant brothers, Dewey has been making life miserable for his Uncle Donald since their debut in the 1937 comic strip, Donald's Nephews. The second brother hatched, his official birth name is Dewford Deuteronomy Duck. Dewey missed out on being the eldest triplet by a mere three seconds. Instead, he’s the Middle Duck and wants to stand out.
     In the 1987 DuckTales episode “Duck in the Iron Mask” (Ep. 56/Season 1) Dewey is at bat for his Junior Woodchucks team, but the crowd keeps mistaking him for one of his other two brothers. Dewey wants to be his own duck and separate himself from the threesome, so the next morning he sheds his signature blue shirt and appears wearing attention grabbing garb.
     Dewey’s Middle Child issues continue in the 2017 DuckTales reboot. As a way of proving himself, he embarks on dangerous adventures by himself, earning the nickname “The Guts.” Like many Mid Kids, Dewey can be sensitive and insecure. He’s also made it his life's mission to find his long-lost mother, Donald’s sister Della.

CHRIS GRIFFIN (Older Sister: Meg; Younger Brother: Stewie)
     Christopher Cross Griffin was an accident, the result of a broken condom. Peter and Lois filed a lawsuit and were able to buy their house with the proceeds, so it wasn’t a total loss. In “Peter's Daughter” (Ep.7/ Season 6), Lois admits she smoked and drank a lot when she was pregnant with Chris hoping it would terminate the pregnancy. So even before becoming a Middle Child, nobody wanted him around.
     Chris is self-conscious, mostly about his weight. I’m sure being called “Elephant Child” when he was born didn’t help. He has a close relationship with his father, but sometimes thinks he won’t live up to Peter’s expectations, which are pretty low. Chris is uncomfortably attracted to his mother. He even once dated a girl that looked like Lois, figuring the only person who could love him would be someone who could tolerate his father.
      Chris has pretty typical sibling rivalry with Meg. They love each other, even if it’s only because they’re forced to by their mother. Of course, that doesn't include that time in “Lethal Weapons” (Ep.7/Season 3), as seen here. Chris is also often the unwitting guinea pig for Stewie's many experiments.
      Oh, and in “And the Wiener is...” (Ep.3/Season 5) we learn that Chris has an unusually large penis, like most male Middles. Or maybe it’s just me.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Middle Children Can Be Very Animated: Part 1

     I’ll be the first to admit it. Like other Middle Children, I’ve done many things over the years to compensate for the attention I felt like I was wrongfully being denied. Whether I was standing on my head singing songs for my grandparents, putting on puppet shows and magic shows for anyone who’d watch, or making an injury appear to be far more serious than it actually was, my Middle Child antics could surely be described as... animated. Did it ever quench my thirst for attention? Of course not. But there is a special group of Middle Children who have earned worldwide adoration by being animated. And I mean totally animated.
     While many fictional Middle Children have been immortalized in TV & Film (see this list from Zimbio), the animated Middle Children gathered here are for real! All verified by extensive study of cartoon birth records and analysis of comic strip DNA.
     In no particular order, here is the “Smack Dab List of Best Animated Middle Children:”

 LISA SIMPSON (Older Brother: Bart; Younger Sister: Maggie)
     America’s favorite sax addict is ranked 11th on TV Guide’s list of “Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time” -- tied with her older brother. Intellectually superior to her parents with an IQ of 159, Lisa is the voice of reason in the family, yet feels like an outsider and often wonders if she was adopted. What Middle Child hasn't had the very same thought?
     For the most part, Lisa had to raise herself as Homer and Marge were busy dealing with Bart, as seen in “Lisa’s Pony” (Ep.8 Season 3). As an infant, she changed her own diapers. Doh! While this lack of nurturing made Lisa fiercely independent, it also made her feel like her parents don’t understand or support her. When trying to build Bart’s confidence before a golf competition, Lisa tells him, “Having never received encouragement, I'm not sure how it should sound, but here goes: I believe in you.”
     Early signs of Lisa’s Middle Child issues are evident with her heartbreaking rendition of “Happy Birthday to Me” in “Stark Raving Dad” (Ep. 1/Season 3). There’s a story in Simpsons Comics #89 titled “Lisa in the Middle.” And Lisa’s Middle Child Syndrome surfaces again in “Peeping Mom” (Ep. 18/Season 26)...

SIMON SEVILLE (Older Brother: Alvin; Younger Brother: Theodore)
     The list of famous animated rodents is an impressive one: Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Mighty Mouse, Danger Mouse, Chip & Dale, Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Fievel Mousekewitz, Jerry, Itchy, Speedy Gonzales, and of course, Alvin & the Chipmunks.
     The birth order of the singing Seville siblings has been the center of worldwide controversy. Some fan sites suggest Simon is eight seconds older than Alvin. In fact, in “The Sub,” Ep. 29B/Season 2 of Alvinnn! and the Chipmunks, Alvin does refer to himself as the “Middle Child.” But as seen below, all questions are laid to rest in “Grounded Chipmunk,” Ep. 60/Season 6 of The Chipmunks, when Alvin reveals the truth! Having previously established Theodore as the runt of the Seville scurry, Simon is confirmed as the Middle Chipmunk, securing his place as the sole inductee in the Animated Middle Rodent Hall of Fame.

JOHN DARLING (Older Sister: Wendy; Younger Brother: Michael)
     Don’t let the top hat and fancy talk fool you. Although he appears sophisticated for his age, the high flying Middle Darling is a child at heart with a playful sense of adventure, as witnessed by his fascination with pirates. John likes listening to his older sister's Peter Pan stories. He also enjoys playing the part of Captain Hook while his younger brother is Peter when play in the nursery.
     Scottish author and playwright J.M. Barrie named John after John Llewelyn-Davies, one of the brothers whose family was the inspiration for the boy characters in Peter Pan. True Pan-ophiles also know John shares the same middle name as the world’s most renowned diminutive Middle Child -- Napoleon.

 LINUS VAN PELT (Older Sister: Lucy; Younger Brother: Rerun)
     Born on July 14, 1952, Linus didn’t make his first appearance in the Peanuts comic strip until September 19, 1952. He wasn’t mentioned by name until three days later. How Middle Child is that? Linus has a typical Middle Child relationship with his siblings. Lucy treats him like crap, making him her personal errand boy and often getting physical with him for no apparent reason. She even once took his beloved security blanket and locked it in a closet for two weeks as part of a bet. What a bitch!
     Linus is depicted as a loving older brother to Rerun, who he actually named. Upon learning about her new baby brother, Lucy comments that having another little brother is like watching reruns on television, and Linus suggests naming him just that. Rerun is often embarrassed by some of Linus’ more glaring peculiarities. These include, but are not limited to, Linus' unwavering belief in the existence of the Great Pumpkin and his obsession with his ever present security blanket, which he’s often mocked for by other characters as well. His insecurity is further evidenced in his persistent sucking of both thumbs. He insists one is sweeter than the other, by the way. But nothing captures Linus’ true Middle Child nature more than his loyal best-friendship to Charlie Brown. And that cannot be easy.

NEXT WEEK: Middle Children Can Be Very Animated - Part 2

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Middle Child's Day is in Jeopardy!

     Actually, it was on Jeopardy! On November 14. Day 6 of the Teen Tournament. Season 35, Episode 48, to be exact. That’s right, we got us some nationally syndicated game show attention!!
The category was “SIBLINGS,” and the answer was:

      And Claire Sattler, a Senior from Bonita Springs, FL, nailed it! (She went on to the finals and won, by the way.) Without hesitation, she asked “What is Middle Child’s Day?” -- a question millions of people have no doubt asked countless times before. Which is the whole point of this post.
     As you know, raising awareness of Middle Child’s Day has been the primary mission of the International Middle Child Union since its inception. So this is a big deal. I mean, everyone knows how hard it is to get on Jeopardy! (Lord knows, I’ve tried and failed. I did make it onto “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” in 2003, however.)
     Granted, this was only the Teen Tournament, when you can play along at home and feel like you’re really smart. But still, it’s a start. To quote Johnny Gilbert, “This is Jeopardy!” It’s not some one-season wonder. According to, Jeopardy! is “the longest-running game show currently in production - not just in the United States but the entire world... with a staggering 8,711 episodes.” It’s also my favorite game show ever!
     And this wasn’t some dopey $200 answer. It was a $1,000 one. Those are notoriously tough answers. Of course, I realize now that sounds like a good thing, but it really means they thought it was such an obscure answer, nobody would know the question. So I guess I have more work to do. But even that can’t dampen my enthusiasm. We made it to almost prime-time TV!
     Now, can I take credit for any of this happening? Of course not. But will I? There’s no question.

     In celebration of this momentous occasion, I've created a special version of Middle Child Jeopardy! CLICK BELOW to play.  (CLICK HERE for some musical motivation.)

NOTE: My last three posts were all inspired by information sent to me by family, friends, and followers. If you have any Middle Child miscellany to share, let me know at the SmackDab Tip line: 
(Your tips are completely anonymous. How apropos. )

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

They're Playing Our Song.

A SmackDab Music Review

     According to the Guinness Book of World Records, “Happy Birthday to You” is the most recognized song in the English Language. For many Middle Children, however, Lisa Simpson’s adaptation might strike a more familiar chord:

     But thanks to Palmyra Delran, that’s all about to change. Delran is a musician/songwriter/producer and host of “Palmyra’s Trash-Pop Shindig” on “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” channel on SiriusXM. Her just released album, “Come Spy With Me,” (from Van Zandt’s Wicked Cool Records label) includes a track that could have Middle Children singing a different tune.
     “Happy Birthday Middle Child” is “a punky, fun tribute to stepping up and being seen,” says Parade Magazine. The song features non-MidKid Debbie Harry -- yeah, that Debbie Harry, from Blondie -- and expresses what so many Middle Children feel, maybe even more so on their birthdays.
     Delran says she had the title kicking around for a while in her book of songs to write, “but I forgot about it.” Typical Middle Child treatment, right? But wait a second -- Delran is a Middle Child, with older and younger sisters. It seems she was lucky enough, however, to escape the ravages of Middle Child Syndrome. In her Parade interview, Delran explains, “There seems to be an inside joke with Middle Children that they get ignored… or maybe they’re just milking it for attention?”
     Now hold on there one darn second, Palmyra. An inside joke!? Trust me, there’s nothing funny about it! Okay, maybe there is a little. But milking it for attention!?! Hmmm, possibly. Even though it
sounds like Delran might be questioning the very legitimacy of Middle Child Syndrome, I am willing to forgive her. After all, we’ll take attention any way we can get it. I mean, beggars can’t be choosers.
     With that in mind, I think that “Happy Birthday Middle Child,” with a few slight revisions, could be the official anthem for Middle Child’s Day. In fact, I'll even take it a step further. In recognition of helping to raise awareness of our plight, I hereby award Palmyra Delran’s latest work the International Middle Child Union Seal of Approval. Like it or not.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Middle Child of Recounts.

     Recount fever has swept the nation, and nowhere has it hit harder than in my home state of Florida. But there’s a call for a Florida recount that, not surprisingly, isn’t getting any attention. And it has nothing to do with politics for a change. This recount centers around a 2017 study which, as reported by the website, found that “Middle Children Are Most Likely To Be Troublemakers.
     When I read that headline, I found it so outrageous it made me want to break one of my mother’s good vases. But a team of researchers from MIT, Northwestern University, the University of Florida and Aarhus University in Denmark concluded that “in families with two or more children, second-born boys are on the order of 20-40 percent more likely to be disciplined in school and enter the criminal justice system compared to first-born boys.”
     Like it wasn’t bad enough other studies have already found we don’t do as well in school as our older siblings, we have lower IQs and make less money than them, too. We needed this like we needed a hole in the head.
     The study cites all sorts of reasons for this phenomenon, but that’s a discussion for another post. As the ranking member of the Middle Child Party, I’m having a hard time accepting these findings. Oh, did I forget to mention the name of the study? “Birth Order and Delinquency: Evidence from Denmark and Florida. Yeah, FLORIDA! You know, the people who brought us the hanging chad. I should just accept the accuracy of the data they collected from Florida!? I think not. So I’m doing what any red-blooded Floridian Middle Child would do. I DEMAND A RECOUNT!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Buzz Off, Middle Child.

Profiles in Middledom: #4 in a series, featuring Middle Children (real-life or otherwise) who have earned their place in the pantheon of birth order oblivion.

     Critics were over the moon prior to the October 12 release of “First Man,” the Damien Chazelle directed biopic about Neil Armstrong -- the first-born, first man to walk on the moon. And while Ryan Gosling received generally positive reviews for his portrayal of Armstrong, the movie failed to take off at the box office. Some would say it’s performance was less than stellar. Others have simply called it a flop.
     This is particularly bad news for us here at Smack Dab Studios, and has caused us to temporarily halt production of our very own moon-shot masterpiece: “Second Man,” the story of Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. When Aldrin stepped on the lunar surface almost 20 minutes after Armstrong on July 21, 1969, he became the second man to walk on the moon. Fittingly, Aldrin was a Middle Child.
     Of course, everyone remembers Armstrong’s first words when he stepped off the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, but no one remembers what Aldrin said:
“Beautiful view. Magnificent desolation.”
     Okay, maybe that’s why no one remembers.
     Some NASA accounts suggest that Aldrin was actually supposed to be the first to walk on the moon, but it was decided it would be easier for first born Armstrong to exit first due to the positioning of the astronauts in the Lunar Module. Sure. So the Middle Child gets shoved aside. Again. Literally.
     After retiring from NASA, Armstrong rarely made public appearances or gave interviews, but in true Middle Child fashion, Aldrin would talk about his experience to pretty much anyone who would listen. Unlike the First Man, who pretty much avoided the spotlight, the Second Man actually sought it out. He was even a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars” in 2010, for heaven’s sake.
     All these years later, though, Aldrin is still getting the Middle Child treatment: he was reportedly not invited to an advanced screening of “First Man.” He was portrayed in the movie as an “obnoxious loudmouth.” And while both of Armstrong's sons, along with a number of space historians and NASA engineers, get thanks from the producers in the credits, Aldrin's name is missing from the IMDB listing. But even though he was regrettably forced to forever follow in Armstrong’s footsteps, Aldrin can take solace in claiming his very own extraterrestrial first. On a previous Gemini mission in November 1966, he snapped the very first space selfie.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Father of Middle Child Syndrome.

Profiles in Middledom: #3 in a series, featuring Middle Children (real-life or otherwise) who have earned their place in the pantheon of birth order oblivion.

     Alfred Adler is considered by many to be one of the three great psychologists of the 20th century, along with Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. But you probably never heard of him. How fitting for the man who laid the groundwork for the condition any self-respecting Middle Child claims to be afflicted with.
     A Middle Child himself (the 2nd of 7), Dr. Adler was one of the first to suggest that birth order influences personality. He theorized Middle Children would be the most likely member of the family to be rebellious and feel squeezed-out.
Dr. Alfred Adler: From
“Who's Who?” to “Who?
     Back in the day, Freud and Adler were like brothers, complete with some serious psycho-sibling rivalry. When Adler broke away from Freudian psychoanalysis and formed his own school of thought called Individual Psychology, Freud was infuriated. He issued an ultimatum to his fellow members of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society to either drop Adler or be expelled. (NOTE: Freud had two siblings 20+ years older from his father's first marriage. He was the first born from his father's third marriage, with seven younger siblings. While technically a Middle Child, he's what some would call a “functional first born.” That might explain a few things.)
     Sadly, Dr. Adler never received credit for many of his theories that
have become accepted as part of modern psychology. In fact, according to psychohistorian Henri F. Ellenberger, “It would not be easy to find another author from which so much has been borrowed on all sides without acknowledgement than Alfred Adler.” What an appropriately twisted tribute. Just what the Middle Child doctor ordered.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Guess the Middle Child.

      A Facebook friend sent me this picture, asking if I might be able to use it on my blog. Use it on my blog!?! I might have to frame it! They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this case it's a gross underestimate. This picture says everything you need to know about being a Middle Child. If you're a Middle Child, you definitely know this feeling.
     This picture also got me to wondering, how many more pictures like this are floating around out there? I know a lot of Middle Children complain about there not being any photographic evidence of their childhood -- and with pics like this, maybe that's a good thing. But if you happen to find any, I'd love it if you'd share them with me.
     Send your #MiddleChildMoment to me at, and I'll post it here on the blog and on Twitter @midkidmusings.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Funniest Book I've Ever Read.

A Smack Dab Book Review

Pure fantasy:
But technically non-fiction.
          My daughter/Smack Dab Middle Child was all excited when she came home from school the other day. “Look at what I found, Daddy!” she giggled, as she presented me with a book she had brought home from her 1st grade library. (I should probably mention at this point that my daughter is a not a 1st grade student. She’s a full grown 1st grade teacher.) The book was titled “Dealing with Being the Middle Child in Your Family,” and though I’m pretty sure it wasn’t meant to be, it was a hilarious read.
          “Dealing with Being a Middle Child” offers some simple solutions for managing Middle Child Syndrome. All you have to do is realize how great it is to be a Middle Child. It’s that easy! That’s like saying you’ve found the secret to losing weight: just eat less. How hard could that be? Let me give you the CliffsNotes.
          The chapter titled “What About Me?” starts by asking, “Do you ever feel left out because you’re the Middle Child?” A better question would be, “Do you ever not feel left out because you’re a Middle Child!?” I mean, really. If When you do feel left out, the book suggests, “Just tell your parents. They can help you.” You know, the very same people you think don’t pay enough attention to you. Tell them. Geez. And what about this gem? “Another solution is to spend time with friends. Friends can cheer you up and make you smile.” Oh, you mean the friends that I wanted to spend time with but they didn’t include me in their plans? Those friends?? That’s why I’m feeling left out in the first place!! Ugh. According to the book, feeling left out can also be overcome by finding out what you like to do: “Do you like to sing or dance or play sports? Getting to know your unique talents will help you feel special throughout your whole life.” I’m sorry, but it sounds to me like they’re really saying, “Find something you like doing, kid, because you’re gonna be spending a lot of time by yourself!” Honestly, I’m running out of exclamation points, and I’m not even halfway through this post.
Denise Discovers Drama: when you're
a Middle Child, that's the last thing
you need more of.
          The “Denise Discovers Drama” chapter tells the story of a Middle Child who loves to sing and act, while her siblings have no interest in doing either. Denise feels special when she gets a great part in the school play and is excited to perform on stage for her family. Of course, the book forgets to mention that her play is on the same night as her older brother’s Martial Arts tournament and her little sister’s Science Fair, so nobody can make it to the show.
A Family Camping Trip: if a Middle
Child is in a forest and there's no one
else around, does he still have
Middle Child Syndrome?
          In “A Family Camping Trip,” little Darrin is feeling left out because his older brother Pete gets to pitch the tent with Dad and his younger sister Maria was asked to gather sticks for firewood. Mom saves the day by asking Darrin to help her make dinner and letting him wear a goofy chef’s hat. This makes Darrin feel good. Sure, but probably not enough to let him forgive his parents for giving his siblings normal names and naming him Darrin. 
          Meanwhile, the chapter titled The Middle Child” concludes, “It takes time to figure out your special role in the family.” Uh, yeah -- like your entire life!
          Look, it’s not like this is the first book ever written about Middle Children. Over the years, there have been many others. Some are for kids, with titles like “The Middle Child Blues,” and “My Middle Child, There’s No One Like You,” which any self-disrespecting Mid Kid will tell you is just code for “My Middle Child, Why Can’t You Be More Like Your Siblings?” Others target parents, like “The Secret Power of Middle Children: How Middleborns Can Harness Their Unexpected and Remarkable Abilities.” We all know that’s just a nice way of saying “How to Fix Your Middle Child.”
          I suspect many of the books written about Middle Children weren't actually written by Middle Children. If they were, they’d tell a very different story.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

"What Did They Do to You?"

          I was in the kitchen with my wife the other day, desperately seeking praise for something I had done that I thought was worthy of more fuss, when my wife looked at me and asked, “What did they do to you?” I can understand her asking. Something must have happened to me in my childhood that would cause the need to be lauded just because I helped her chop some chicken salad, she reasoned. It couldn’t just be because I’m a Middle Child.
          Of course I knew instantly who “they” were: my parents. But I don’t blame them for my chronic Middle Child Syndrome. Well, maybe a little. I mean, there is total agreement with my brother and sister as to who my parents’ favorites were. My brother was my father’s and my sister was my mother’s. Second place wasn’t as clear cut. I definitely got a bronze medal from my father, but I might have eked out a silver from my mother.
          Please don’t misunderstand. In no way was I mistreated by my parents. My brother and sister weren’t given things that I wasn’t. Other than attention. They weren’t awarded any special treatment by my parents. At least not that I’m aware of. My parents just didn’t have great favorite child poker faces. They were easy to read. Sure, there was that Middle Child poem my mother had taped to the kitchen wall in the house I grew up in. But I’m pretty sure that was just a decoy intended to throw me off.
          In order to avoid reliving this same problem with my own children, and especially my Middle Child, I have always been very careful to follow a very simple strategy. I simply act like I can’t stand any of them.
          By the way, I really am a very good chicken salad chopper.

Hear more at “Pay No Attention to this Podcast:”
My brother & sister confirm who were the favorites (at 17:50 mins)
A discussion of the Middle Child poem, and a rewrite (at 4:00 mins)

Friday, September 14, 2018

Nobody Gives a Crap.

Profiles in Middledom: #2 in a series, featuring Middle Children (real-life or otherwise) who have earned their place in the pantheon of birth order oblivion.

Required Reading: every
Middle Child's favorite
bathroom book.

     Middle Child Thomas Crapper is often cited as the inventor of the modern flush toilet. But lavatory historians will tell you, that’s a load of crap. While Crapper was a prominent London plumber who did do much to popularize sanitary plumbing in the 1800’s, he’s hardly the first to sit in the “Oval Office.” He was the first to display flushing toilets in a showroom and held three patents for water closet improvements, including the floating ballcock and siphonic flush toilet -- but none was for the flush toilet itself. (By the way, if you think the word Crap derives from his name, you’re shit out of luck. Crap is actually of Middle English origin, predating the creation of Thomas Crapper & Co. in 1861 by hundreds of years, so there’s no direct link -- just a too-good-to-be-true coincidence.)
His Royal Hiney-ness?: Well,
now you know why we call

it "the John."
     But fear not, Middle Child. Our flush with greatness remains intact, because it was another Mid Kid who lays claim to the porcelain throne. Sir John Harington was a godson of Queen Elizabeth I who liked telling risqué stories. (An early case of potty mouth, maybe?) As a result, he was banished from the court and exiled to a small town near, wait for it -- Bath. Can’t make this shit up.

"Going to the crapper" since
World War I:
American GIs

in England saw the name on
cisterns and used it as slang.
     During his time away, somewhere between 1584-91, Harington built himself a house and created the world’s first flushing toilet. When the Queen eventually forgave him and visited his house, she was so impressed with the invention, she had one installed in one of her palaces. Still, it took another 200 years of improvements for the idea to catch on. In the 1880s, England's future King Edward VII hired a prominent London plumber to construct lavatories in several royal palaces. Yep, you guessed it -- Mr.Crapper. And since I can’t resist making another toilet-related pun, the rest is shitstory.
     So the next time you use the "crapper" or the "John," you can do so proudly, knowing a Middle Child helped make it all possible. No ifs or ands. Just plenty of butts.

Friday, September 7, 2018

In the Beginning...

Ham: Noah's least favorite son.
     Feeling like the odd man out in the family is nothing new for a Middle Child. It’s been going on since the beginning of time. How do I know this? The Bible tells me so! It’s filled with many tales of the world’s original outcasts. Remember Ham, Noah’s Middle Child? Of course you don’t. According to the Book of Genesis, one day Ham finds Noah drunk and naked, so he tells his brothers, Shem and Japheth. His brothers avert their eyes and cover their father. So what does Noah do? He gets pissed at Ham and puts a curse on Ham’s son! Oh, that’s fair.

Being a Middle Child is the pits.
    And what about Jacob’s son, Joseph? With eleven brothers, he was one of many Middle Children in the family. In a very rare occurrence for a Mid Kid, he was also his father’s favorite, and given a many colored coat by his father to prove it. This did not sit well with his brothers. First, they stole Joseph’s gaudy garment, then they threw him in a pit and sold him into slavery. Nice.
Murder He Wrote: things don't end well
for the world's first Middle Child.

     Last, but definitely least, there’s Adam and Eve’s second son, Abel -- widely believed to be the world’s very first Middle Child. (According to the Bible, Adam & Eve had a third son named Seth. He was born when Adam was 130 years old. Go Adam. I know that sounds really old, but the Bible also says Adam died when he was 930 years old, so it’s all relative . He probably died blowing out the candles. But I digress.) Everyone knows the story of Cain and Abel, the world’s first case of sibling rivalry. In a nutshell, both brothers made sacrifices to God, Abel’s was favored over Cain’s, so Cain killed Abel. As a result, Abel holds the dubious distinction of being the world’s very first murder victim. And the Lord said, “Let the Middle Child treatment begin.”

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Middle Child Hairdon'ts

I have Category 5 bed head.
     This is what my hair looks like when I wake up every morning. I realize this is not an exclusively Middle Child phenomenon. I know that many others face similar coif catastrophes each day. But this is a Middle Child’s blog after all, and I want to stay on point. So I feel it’s important to focus on those Middle Children who hold a very special place in the Bad Hair Hall of Shame. In fact, they are some of the most legendary superstars of the follicle follies, taking the pursuit of the hirsute to hair-raising new heights. In many cases, literally.
     It kind of makes perfect sense when you think about it. I mean, what an easy way to grab attention. With the stroke of a brush, or perhaps a comb, it’s like saying, “Look at me,” without even saying a word.
     Here are just some of the many Middle Children who know how to make every day a bad hair day.


Hair Force One - Donald Trump:
you would think our Middle Child
in Chief gets enough attention. 
Judging from his hair, apparently not.

Spear Head - Britney Spears:
when it comes to seeking attention with
your hair, sometimes less is more.

The King of Bad Hair - Don King: 
the original heavyweight champion
of hair. At the height of his career,
his hair was, too.

Crazy Train Coif - Kelly Osbourne: 
when your dad once bit the head off a
bat, doing weird stuff with your hair
is mild by comparison.

Hair Apparent - Kim Jong Un:
Donald Trump’s BFF has had
hundreds of people executed since
taking power in 2011. His hair stylist
must have been one of them.

Wigging Out - Nicki Minaj:
her vast collection of attention grabbing 
wigs runs the gamut, from rainbow striped to leopard spotted.