The Fixings in the McDaniel-Sibling Sandwich

Happy Middle Child’s Day!

That’s right, fellow stuck-in-the-middle kids; it’s a day just for us. While our older siblings enjoyed the one-on-one attention of our parents for how many ever years they existed solo and our younger siblings were coddled in babyhood from the time they were born, we’ve been solidly hanging in the middle from the get-go.

To honor Middle Child Day, I thought it would be best to give a shout out to the bread that made me the fixings.

The top piece of the McDaniel sandwich, my older sister, holds the distinction of being first-born. A bit bossy (you know it is true!)  but always put together, she wears her oldest child mantel well. Yes, there was some freedom that came from being the oldest, but I think she also bore the brunt of the chores and rules since she was the firstborn. By the time I was in middle school, my Saturday morning chore list had been reduced to vacuuming the bedroom hallway (who ever sees it anyway?) and cleaning the kids’ bathroom, with the bulk of my tasks being handed over to the sister who actually dusted and didn’t just spray Pledge around the room to make it smell lemony. (Confession time: Most Saturdays, I would take my shiny red boom box into the bathroom, close the door and spend forty-five minutes adding to my collection of taped songs from the weekend Top 40. To make the cleaning seem more legit, I would sprinkle Comet in the tub and swish it around, pour some toilet cleaner in the bowl and swish it around and spray some Windex on the mirror- no swishing. I also found it was a bonus to flush the toilet and then put a bit more blue liquid in there to “soak” so it looked like full effort had been expended. While the bathroom probably didn’t get a thorough cleaning for a good ten years, I was able to capture all the top hits of the early 90s, including Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On” and New Kids on the Block’s “Step by Step.” I also was able to fully memorize “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” which is still one of my favorite treadmill tunes!)

While Top Bread (I think I may have a new nickname for her!) also got the first attempts at rules/punishments as we headed into our teenage years, meaning the parental units were stricter with her than they were with me. (Partially, this falls to my middle-child status, as I think I was just more low-key about pushing limits than she was.)  I remember one Saturday when we had volleyball at the church in Caldwell. She had been allowed to drive my mom’s brand new Ford Taurus (it was the car of the 90s!) to the games and then we were to come right home. The driving instructions were very explicit about to the church and then straight back to the casa, no in between stops! But, after volleyball, I really wanted a Hostess cupcake, so I convinced her to go to the Circle K to get gas for the car. It would be a nice surprise for the next driver.  The mini-mart was only a mile up the road, so I didn’t see how it would be a problem and she was happy to get a Big Gulp for herself. To make a long story short, she hit the concrete pylon that guards the tanks with the car door mirror (remember, this was a brand new car!) and left a huge scrape on the backside of it. But, before we could even make a plan, my parents happened to pull into the exact same gas station! Oooops! Not only were we not supposed to be there, but now the car had a thick scratch on it. Eeek! Luckily, I sneaked back into the passenger’s side of the vehicle, leaving her to the wrath (which manifests itself as a silent, scary look that no one wants to witness!) of my father. While I definitely had a voice in convincing her to go for snacks, I’m pretty sure I let her take the blame- she is the older (and wiser!) sister, after all!

And then there is the bottom bread to the McDaniel sandwich. Not only was he the last-born, making him an instant favorite, but he was the only boy, doubling his princeling-hood. From day one, we’ve teased him about being a favorite. (As a matter of fact, he said I could have today as Middle Child Day, as he gets the other 364 days of the year!)Probably the biggest advantage he had as the last born was an unbroken chain of sympathy and trust from our mom. More than once he was able to turn a small jab in the ribs into a knock-down that left him stranded in the prickly bushes outside our front door. It was amazing the strength my scrawny eight year old body held in it! (To be fair, he may have been locked in the crawl space under the house a time or two as payback for the hyperbolic stories he would try to weasel past Mom.)

Just like my older sister, he enjoyed some perks of his birth order,  but it wasn’t all unicorns and sparkly, pearl-strapped purses.  Being the youngest meant that as Top Bread and I got older and left for college, all of the chores that had been divided three ways shrank until they were his sole responsibility. Mucking out llama stalls with three pitchforks on the move goes a lot faster than with just one.  (Okay, two, as I usually found important wandering around “chores” to do, like rolling straw bales to the barn or pushing a barely used wheelbarrow out to the manure pile.) And mowing a yard that is the size of a small farm is no fun when you are the only one pushing the mower.

So yes, it is National Middle Child Day, but I wouldn’t be the spectacular sandwich fixings that I am today without the support of the bread on either side. With that in mind, happy Middle Child Day Top Bread and Bottom Bread. Go have a sandwich and celebrate our McDaniel-ness!

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