‘It’s a wonder every Middle Child isn’t an ax murderer’
To have a Middle Child in your family you need, at minimum (duh), three kids. Mine had five. We had the Big Kids (Scott and me), the Little Kids (Laura and Doug). And poor Roger — who, incidentally, just had a birthday Saturday– was the one stuck in the middle.
I say ‘poor Roger’ because this is the kind of thing he’d hear all day: ‘Roger! Stop bothering those Big Kids. They have homework to do.’ Or: ‘Roger! Stop teasing those Little Kids. They might get hurt.’
Well, we Big Kids didn’t really mind our homework getting interrupted. And the Little Kids? They didn’t get hurt. Not physically, anyway. Though that Roger was a world-champion teaser/tormenter. I can still picture (and hear) him trailing Laura all around the house blowing on his trombone: ‘Blat blat blaaaaaat…blat blat blaaaaat!’ Over and over and over again. It drove her absolutely wild. Laura: ‘Moooooooom!!!!’ Mom: ‘He’s just practicing, dear.’ Laura: ‘But he won’t stoooooop!’ Mom: ‘Just ignore him.’ Like that would work.
Poor Roger. Stuck in the middle. Not only did he get squeezed out of exclusive Big Kid and Little Kid activities, he got blamed for pretty much every naughty thing that happened:
Who ate the ears off my chocolate Easter Bunny? ‘Roger did it.’
Who dropped these wet towels here for me to pick up? ‘Roger did it.’
Who left these crayons on the floor so they got stepped on? ‘Roger did it.’
Speaking of crayons, my favorite blame-Roger-for-everything incident was the time our Littlest Brother Doug, who was about two at the time, wrote his name on the white stucco outside wall of our house, right there inside the carport.
Now, you have to imagine, since no photo exists, the word ‘DOIEP’ (which is how Doug spelled ‘Doug’) scrawled in two-year-old penmanship at two-year-old height in rather large purple crayoned letters. He told our Mom ‘Roger did it’. And she almost believed him.
Now all this Middle-Child Angst didn’t thwart Roger’s development. Not one bit. You’ve heard that saying ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you strong?’ Well, in Roger’s case, it made him creative. And funny. Oh, and persuasive as heck.
He actually got our teetotaling grandparents (the Swedish ones who drank gallons of weak coffee and played Scrabble, not the French ones who made dandelion wine and played poker) — he got these grandparents to serve wine at Christmas one year:
Roger, bless him, is also one of the most gregarious people I know. I swear you could drop him into the middle of the Gobi Desert and he’d find ten new Best Friends before he even looked for water.
Roger is so darned friendly that I bet if you happened to find yourself in Geneva, Illinois, and dropped by his house, he would invite you to hang out on the Porch of Ill Repute. And maybe even share a bowl of chili or a Dad-Egg Sandwich. (If you’re scratching your head over what the heck those are — except for the chili of course — just click here for another good Roger Story.)
So. Happy (Belated-but-Heartfelt) Birthday, Dear Roger. I am so glad you are my Middle Brother. And even gladder that you are not an ax murderer.
New York City. October 2015