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.