Adelie and Staley's World

Adelie and Staley's World

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Middle

I'm realizing more and more that sometimes it's just hard to be in the middle.  As the middle child, Adelie sometimes gets the short end of the attention stick.  Staley had 2 years as the only child before Adelie came along, and Briggs will have a few years as the only child at home when both girls are in school.  But Adelie doesn't get that.  She always has to deal with divided attention, and truthfully, her portion is probably the smallest.  Not by choice, but more by design.  Staley can't be ignored.  She is always talking and planning and has strong opinions and big ideas.  She won't let herself be ignored.  And Briggs...well, he's still apt to fall down stairs or eat something off the floor or pull something big over on himself, so he still requires close supervision.  But Adelie.  She follows along with Staley's plans and can play on her own while I'm attending to Briggs.  She doesn't necessarily make herself heard like Staley or require close supervision like Briggs, so sometimes she just ends up with less.

In the same way, Adelie hasn't had as much time to develop her own interests and desires.  Again, growing up with an older sister, many of her pursuits are those that Staley pioneers.  She does kid's choir and Shining Stars because Staley does.  Staley liked princesses first...and mermaids...and twirly dresses.  Many of Adelie's clothes were Staley's, so they were not bought with Adelie in mind.  I'm not saying that Adelie doesn't have her own thoughts and opinions and favorites.  And she gets super-excited when I bring up her "new" clothes or shoes from the basement or from the bags that she gets from her cousins.  She definitely is working to find her own way, but it's probably hard to really determine who you are when you are constantly living in the footsteps of your big sister.

Adelie definitely has her own unique personality and her own strengths.  She's so confident and brave in many ways that Staley is not.  She is coordinated and fast and athletic.  As Staley becomes more shy and withdrawn in new situations, Adelie continues to flourish socially and embrace the new.  I know that she loves having a big sister as a constant play mate, and she loves being a big sister to Briggs.  Being in the middle has taught her to go with the flow, entertain herself, keep up with the big kids, and never back down from a challenge.  There are definitely perks to being in the middle, but it's also hard.

The more I understand these middle differences, the more I am trying to be deliberate in the way I parent Adelie.  I know that some of her boundary pushing behavior is just innate to who she is and the limitless energy that she possesses.  But there are definitely times that she is engaging in negative behaviors for the pure purpose of getting a response.  And so I am really trying to find times to focus on Adelie.  I try to find little moments in each day where I can give her my full and undivided attention.  I look for opportunities to focus on her positive qualities and praise her for those.  I try to compliment those traits that make her uniquely her, letting her know what makes her unique and special in my eyes.  When she is within earshot, I try to make sure that I am talking about all the wonderful things about her or sweet things she's done during in the day rather than always focusing on the wild, crazy, tiresome, negative things that might first come to mind.  I am really trying (not always succeeding, but trying) to keep my responses to her negative behaviors in check so that she doesn't get the satisfaction of knowing she's pushed me to the brink.

Being in the middle can be tough, but I'm hoping that if I can parent in the middle accordingly, Adelie will realize that being in the middle can also be a great place to be.





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