Growing up third in a family of seven children has some distinct advantages. Here's one:
Yesterday, I walked into the house after school, and, as usual, things were just this side of totally insane. My four-year-old brother Aaron had constructed a drum set out of pots and pans, which he was beating with forks. While this gave me some minor concern about his future hearing loss, and that of everyone in the vicinity, he did not appear to be actually destroying anything at that exact moment, so I could see why this was being permitted. My youngest brother, Joey, was in his high chair, strongly resisting my mother's attempts to jam what appeared to be kale mixed with sweet potatoes into his face. The substance was the exact color of pond scum, so I get where he why he was having none of it, but I could tell from the look of determination on Mom's face that this was a battle she was unlikely to lose. After fourteen years of continuous toddler feeding, she had quite the playbook to draw from.
I plunged into this tornado of sound and stickiness and withdrew my C- English test from my backpack. I flipped it to the last page where a single line awaited my mother's signature and held it out to her, test in one hand, pen in the other. Just as she opened her mouth to presumably ask what exactly she was putting her name on, a glob of pond scum caught her square in the side of the head. She looked over at Joey with a mixture of annoyance and amazement, then back at the extended paper. She sighed, signed, and resumed her battle with the toddler tyrant before her.
Success. I retreated to my room before I too became a victim of Joey's green gooey terror. On my way out of the kitchen, I swapped Aaron's forks for two wooden spoons, bringing the noise level down by several hundred decibels. Just a little thank you to Mom for her lack of attention at the crucial moment.
There are other things about being the bologna in the giant sandwich of my family that are less optimal. For example:
Upon entering the room that I shared with siblings two and four, I could immediately sense that something was amiss. I have come to believe that middle children in large families have evolved to possess an extra-sensory perception when it comes to the violation of their stuff. We have so little to call our own that when someone messes with what's ours, there is a change in the air. I could practically smell the invasion of privacy. Now I just had to determine where the metaphorical stench was coming from.
To be continued.