Today my nanny referred to my second son as the sandwich filling in our family, coming, as he does, between his neurotic older brother and demanding little twins. I thought this was a splendid way to refer to my gorgeous little middle child, implying that he is the sweet, moreish filling, that sticks our family together and adds a good dollop of interest to our set up.
I replied that yes, he was the honey in my boy sandwich. To which he flew off on a tangent suggesting ever more disgusting ideas for sandwich fillings before alighting on a noxious concoction of ham, sausage and honey - yum.
This got me to thinking about that age old question of birth order and how it affects our personalities. I am a youngest child, but grew up more like an only child as my sister was miles older and left home when I was still very young. I am sure my more demanding tendancies arise from having been the focus of what little parental attention there was, and I will admit to the odd strain of spoilt brat from time to time. My husband is the second child and I am sure even he would admit to being the indulged baby of the family from time to time.
Our own children also follow these time honoured patterns. The eldest is hugely demanding and seems incapable of amusing himself without some level of adult involvement. Surely a hangover from the days when he couldn't breathe without a gaggle of interested grown ups congregating around his cot to get a closer look. He's has first child syndrome particularly severely though as he was also the first grandchild on both sides, so for the first couple of years of his life he was a little Buddha sitting patiently as we all worshipped at his chubby little feet.
Middle boy, the honey in our sandwich, is more independent, but well suited to be in the centre of the family as he knows how to get noticed. While he is capable of playing for hours by himself in his bedroom, making up imaginative games all on his own, woe betide you if you ignore him when he wants his dose of attention. Mr Middle has a temper on him that can raise the roof, and he's not averse to playing up to grab himself a spot in the limelight.
I am ashamed to admit that his needs probably do come last far too often, as he is forgotten in the mess of dealing with his sensitive big brother and his two little brothers. I hope this doesn't inflict any lasting damage on his sunny soul, and fortunately he does seem to be of a robust nature, so fingers crossed he will survive being squished between his brothers.
The twins are slightly unfortunate in having come along as a twosome, as I am sure if I had just one little baby to lavish my attention on he would have been spoilt rotten. As it is no matter that I long to spend hours enmeshed in baby embraces, if I spend too long cuddling one baby, the other will register his displeasure by screaming at the top of his lungs, until I swap from one twin to the next, and so it goes on. Perhaps this will save them from growing up too over indulged, but I would have liked the chance to wallow in my baby one more time.
Only time will tell how our bread and honey will turn out, but I love the idea that my middle child now has a truly special and sweet role to play in the family.