Monday, July 28, 2008

Declan in the Middle

Whether middle child syndrome is real or something cooked up by The Brady Bunch writers to give Jan a plausible storyline remains to be seen. All I know is my experience with Declan, whose birth order puts him right in the middle of the 8 kids in the house, but whose personality makes him youngest of the big kids or oldest of the little kids, depending on the day.

Declan is truly the best candidate for middle sibling in our household, because he's so adaptable. He's equally at home in an elaborate pretend world with Erika and/or Hilary as he is pushing a stroller with Gretchen or striking a sword with Aaron and Ronan.

Instead of being neglected, as is the stereotypical case with middle siblings, Declan seems to have the most options. At almost 4 years old, he's still young enough to play with the little ones, but mature enough to play with the big kids.

I can't help but wonder how his position in the family will change as all the kids get older. Will he spend more time roughhousing with boys Aaron and Ronan as they mature? Or will he gravitate toward the more creative play favored by Erika?

I've been thinking about this more as I grapple with the decision of whether to send Declan to kindergarten when he turns 5 (which is the last day before the cut-off) or to wait and hold him back a year and send him right when he turns 6. If he starts kindergarten when he turns 5, he will be the absolute youngest kid in his class. He will also be just one grade behind Hilary. But if I wait until he turns 6, he will be two grades behind Hilary, but just one grade above Ronan and the twins.

Does it matter? I'm not sure. As the kids get older and spend more time at school and in their various after-school activities, it seems their playmates at home will take more and more of a backseat. When Declan is in first grade, and Hilary in third, and Erika in fifth, their worlds will be so completely different, I can't help but think this separation will transfer to the home as well.

But until then, I'm enjoying watching Declan in all his many roles: big brother to Ronan (who adores Declan, even when clobbering him over the head), doting cousin to Gretchen, prince to Erika's princess, puppy pal to Hilary's puppy.

I'll enjoy it while it lasts, because all too soon I won't be worrying about whether the kids are playing together, but whether Declan is dating Hilary's friends or Gretchen's friends. And I'm certainly not ready for that.


Karden said...

definitely keep him home. The longer he is kept out of the mind-numbery of the public school system the better. Plus, if you put him in at 6, he'll be one of those super cool kids who gets his license before all the other kids.


p.s if you want him to just spend a year becoming a badass yoga ninja with his cousin, just let me know.

Kylie said...

that picture of declan is just fabulous!

lots of love,