Sometimes, I feel guilty that I perpetuate middle
child syndrome. My older two kids command attention, as teens often
do, and my nursery schooler literally demands attention. This
leaves my #3 often stuck, well, in the middle. At 10 years old
she's independent enough to mostly fend for herself and quiet
enough to get lost in the shuffle. She's fun and funny, often happy
to just sit and read a quiet book or hang out on the laptop. It's
easy through the shuffle of life to miss out on opportunities to
engage only her. I have tried hard, middle child or not, to do my
best to pay attention to those times that I'm not doing my
After reading a fab idea on Facebook (thanks Risa!)
I decided to begin a book club with my #3. Once a month my daughter
and I would read the same book. We would then head out to a fancy
sushi lunch, complete with dessert, of course, to discuss our
thoughts on the books. I was really excited about it and more
importantly, so was my daughter!
Choosing a book recommended by a few fellow moms,
we began "Wonder" by RJ Palacio. First, my daughter read it. She
said it was really good and really sad. But, we agreed not to
discuss any details until our lunch. She brought the book to me
that night. So, I hunkered down with a cup of tea to read. Fifteen
pages in, I was laughing and near tears at the very same time. What
a beautifully written, funny, and yes, sad book.
It was so interesting to see my daughter checking
in with me to see that I was still reading it. I think she figured
I would never actually finish a 'fifth grade' book. It reminded me
of years back when my oldest and I were gobbling up pages upon
pages of Harry Potter together in a race to the finish. It was
great bonding time and really fun. I suddenly realized it had been
too long since I had read the same books as my child. It not only
encourages them to read, but because tween and teens often connect
so little with their parents, it really gives you something
positive to talk about. Plus, you get to read really great
Upon finishing the book - a few days later than my
daughter did (life gets in the way of curling up with a good book
for a mom) - we arranged our lunch date. My other kids are a little
jealous of our outing, but it is a good jealous - encouraging other
book club buddies for the future.
Validating a good read with your child, seeing her
eyes light up and laughing at the same parts of a story lead to
wonderful conversations about life, relationships, peer pressure
and fitting in. I often try to start up casual talks with my kids
about life issues, but it's not always so seamless. I have found
the best way to engage older children is to do something they like
to do and they tend to open up easily.
As a mom we often get wrapped up in our bigger kids
with their bigger problems or our smaller kids with their cute (and
frustrating!) ways. It's imperative to not feed into that middle
child syndrome and take each child out separately to remind them we
still love and enjoy them, individually.
We're looking for recommendations for our next read
. . . suggestions?
Sara Kutliroff is a freelance writer and blogger trying not to forget the "me” in mommy.
See more of Sara's stories here.
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