The Importance of One on One Time – The Middle Child

I’ve posted a few things about parenting and realized once again, I’ve forgotten my middle child.  Which pretty much speaks for itself.

So called mom middle child MJ smiling

I think there’s a reason people speak out about the middle child being a little lost or neglected.  Imagine being the middle kid among seven. Well, MJ probably has a lot to say about it.

Here’s what I know:
MJ is the reason we started implementing a roll call wherever we go: vacations, the movies, the store, even as we pile into the van leaving home. I cannot tell you how many times this has saved us from leaving her places, and I will not tell you how many times we’ve actually done it. Managing a sea of children outside of our cozy home is stressful, confusing and sometimes impossible to pull off without one of us (usually me) losing their cool. 
kids reading so called mom middle child

So it’s not surprising that MJ can feel neglected.

I try my best to offset this by intentionally making time for only her – actually making MJ/Mom dates. But in a household that has multiple needs/desires/emergencies this doesn’t always happen as planned. Between homework,  dance recitals, singing, music and french lessons, skateboarding, an unplanned emergency with one of the chickens or the cat, dog or turtle, not to mention the taxi driving to get everywhere, plans can get changed more than they don’t. A trip to the dentist can knock out an entire day—try scheduling nine people back to back. I dare any of you to remain sane. middle child
Despite the overall busy-ness, I’m good at booking time with her, at least once a week. I usually give her full liberty—we do whatever she wants. Sometimes we go downtown and have gelato, sometimes we hit up an art store for new drawing paper or pens.
OK.  This is complete bullshit. The last time we hung out one-on-one was seven months ago when school started. I am only fooling myself—I wish it was like the dream sequence above. 
So called mom MJ waking middle child
So yes, MJ is neglected. There, I said it. Is this bad? Is she insecure or introverted because of it? Or has this helped her to develop some coping skills? I hope for resilience, but as usual, hope doesn’t give me answers. So I guess I have some serious time to make up with her. No more excuses. middle child

Indeed, I have to make more time for everyone—but how?

One-on-one time with kids is how their identities are shaped. Doing things together, just the two of you, so that they can eat up all of your attention is monumental. I really believe that this kind of attention fuels their confidence, and unfortunately in our home not everyone gets equal portions. I hate that she spends so much time with her iPhone, which has become her biggest companion. Although I do occasionally hear her on the phone or face timing her pals across town, I know that 90% of her time spent with that thing is in seeking a connection to the outside world, alone. 
So called mom MJ pensive middle child
So yesterday, I booked time with her and, as expected, our plans were delayed. She was stuck in the van in traffic across town with Pippin and I was waiting at home. MJ had texted me that they turned around in traffic twice and were re-routing again. It was getting late but I was determined to still have our time together, even if I had to rush through the pouring rain. We arrived at a little shop with ten minutes to spare and she put up some money she had saved up for a DIY terrarium kit. We took it home and spent time putting it together, which is now the centerpiece of our dining room table. middle child
So called mom art projects middle child

My hope is that it will remind us both to get together again sooner next time, and with any luck and a little planning, it will.

Unreliably yours,
So Called Mom

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