We’ve got a house full of boys: four of them, ages seven and under. We’ve been told they’re the quietest, most well-behaved children in their classes. They listen well. They wait for their turns. They share.
Yet, at home, the gloves come off.
They’re all learning to hold their own and can get rowdy and wild, especially the two in the middle.
No one feels change as deeply as the middle child.
No one feels as lost.
No one shouts as loudly, just wanting to be heard.
I’m learning our children wear their position in this family like a badge on a uniform.
The oldest is the pioneer. The brand new. The one who taught us what the sizes in those little bitty shoes mean. He’s the leader. The helper. He’s proud to do things first.
Then the second takes over the crib and gets so much attention from the very start. And then mama’s belly grows even bigger and pushes him into that new middle spot.
He’s not the big boy yet. But he’s not the needy newborn anymore.
He gets the hand-me-downs. The comparing. The expectations he just can’t meet. He’s not as mature as big brother but not as fragile as the littlest. Yet he’s still fragile.
He’s not the first one we packed a lunch for in kindergarten. And we forgot his field trip was his first time to ride a school bus.
He isn’t getting as much of a push with his homework. His eyes are on big brother to help him learn.
He shouts and cries that he doesn’t like mommy, just to demand some interaction right then and there. Yet, he wants to be cuddled to sleep every night and whispers you’re still his best friend.
He’s trying out his big-boy pants and is just struggling to keep them up.
So what can we do to help tame his temper when frustration starts another fight?
I’ve learned the help he needs is what he’s asking for.
It may take 10-15 minutes a day of giving him your undivided attention to remind him he’s still just as important as he was from the beginning, and he’s still so very loved.
He thinks he’s in the way. Show him how to be helpful.
Let him teach you patience. Make eye contact when he speaks.
And keep praying for him and cheering him on as he settles into this new role he’s living in.
Because even though he may be in the middle now, he needs to know he isn’t lost.