the middle child

it struck me this morning as I sat on the couch holding miles, playing with him with ruth while joel played trucks on the floor by himself that I often overlook my middle child.  part of the reason I think I wanted to have three children was to re-create the dynamics of my childhood ( grew up with two brothers) so that I could see it all from the parents’ perspective and maybe make a little more sense of it all.  nothing wrong with a little objectivity to help a person realize some things about themselves.  how they came to be who they are a little bit.  as usual, though, I digress.  this isn’t about me, damn self-important blogger.  this isn’t my parents’ family.  joel is not me.

I don’t need to get into all of the complexes and baggage that I’m shackling my kids with in this post.  god knows it could go on quite a while if I tried.  I simply wanted to spend a post reflecting on joel, my almost three-year-old middle child.

the moment after joel was born and I saw his face, my heart broke for him.  I don’t really know if that’s just the consequence of having a natural birth and having all of the internal chemical and hormonal stars align to receive and bond with a baby or if joel is the one that provoked that specific response.  when he was a baby, it hurt me at times to look at him, I just loved him so much.  but that wasn’t all.  there was something about him that seemed particularly fragile and heart-wrenching.  this hasn’t really altered since he’s grown a bit, though it has changed slightly with his age.  I still feel particularly achy in the heart-region when I look at him, talk with him, when he is upset.

simply put, joel is a pure unguarded little spirit.  he wears his heart on his sleeve and it almost makes one stagger at the sheer, naked vulnerability of it.  take it from one with loads of built-up armor in order to fend off the world’s slings and arrows.  his innocence is disarming…and terrifying.  as in, you at once remember and feel back in touch with your own innocence (if one still has the pathways to access that buried innocence open and traversable to some extent) and are simultaneously overcome with terror for him in what awaits him in life.  he’s the type that you want to just scoop up and shield forever in your arms (as though he would ever allow that for more than a couple minutes).

he’s also the type to live life at full speed.  eyes wide, he exclaims to me without an ounce of reservation or guardedness, “when I grow up, I’m going to drive a big truck!”  one could laugh at his simplicity but he’s so sincere it would almost be a sin to.  you have no choice but to crack an enormous grin that matches his own and go along wholeheartedly with his plans.  “that sounds, great, joel.”

he’s the “why walk when you can run”, “why talk when you can scream”, “why be ornery when you can laugh and play” type of person.  he doesn’t seem to have the capacity to get bored and is always playing little games by himself or with his idol of a big sissy.  he is thrilled beyond words by big, loud trucks, left trembling in their wake with a combination of awe and fear.  he is not a fake, but truly, an authentic “morning person”.  by that I mean one that not only wakes early but one who wakes in a good mood, ready for each day, chomping at the bit to start playing. a rare combination.

all this said, he is still a Taurus, child of the bull, at heart, and a two year old one at that.  when he puts his foot down, when he sets his lip, when his eyebrows crinkle and converge on his forehead, you are in for a battle of epic proportions.  so ready yourself.  overall, though, and despite these all-out battles of will I often find myself in with him, his jollity is hard to stifle and his smile is contagious and his good humor is inexplicable.  especially to someone as thin skinned and inflexible as myself.

I am so astounded that this person calls me “mom”.  that I have had the honor and privilege of bringing this bright soul into the world.  I wonder at life that something so good and renewing can come into your scope so suddenly. to someone as jaded and faded as me.




Author: Terry

Welcome! I am a Waldorf and unschooling-inspired homeschooling parent of three, ages 2, 5, and 8 living in the metro Lansing area writing from the front lines of parenthood. Join me as I try to navigate homeschooling and bask in the craziness of life with young ones. Feel free to leave a comment. I would love to hear from you! Thanks for stopping by!

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