Middle Position? I Know it Well

Middle position. Story of my life. Always relegated to the back seat in the car with the hump in the floor forcing one’s legs to either side. Older brothers pushing me back and forth between them just to reduce their own boredom. Younger siblings getting attention simply because they remain “cute” the longer I sit in the room.

“You can’t go with your brothers. You aren’t old enough.”

“Let your younger siblings have the (toy, snack, tv show, whatever other thing), they’re little.”

What kind of logic is that? Is my life somehow worth less notice because of my birth order?

Two older brothers constantly broke new ground. They stretched boundaries and pushed parental limits as they grew. Two younger siblings siphoned parental attention by sheer adorable ineptness. There I was, growing up in the backwater eddy of competent solitude.

Overshadowed by the older ones, outshone by the cuteness of the younger ones, I had to adapt my life strategies for survival through quiet competence. The smoother I made my way through life, the faster my transition and eventual exit from the family social net would seem.

But life never turns out the way you plan it. Here I was once again. Trapped in a middle seat with larger people on either side of me, pressing me inward. Forcing a physical and emotional retreat deeper within myself. The flight attendant misinterpreted the call button overhead. Just like my parents missed my pleas for attention. The larger passengers elbowed me into quiet submission as they ate their tiny airline meals.

The adorable children behind me kicked my seat without remorse. Pleading looks to their parents went unheeded. Instead of stopping them, the flight attendant rewarded them with extra treats and plastic wings as a gift from the airline. Typical.

It turns out that your neighbor on the plane/bus/train (or the person sitting at the next table at the coffee shop) is a very, very chatty tourist. Do you try to switch seats, go for a non-committal brief small talk, or make this person your new best friend?

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