Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Princess Syndrome

Someone asked me recently how I felt about Chloe starting school. Was it bittersweet? Did I think I would cry? I thought about that for a few minutes, and then gave my honest answer:

“Chloe is a middle child. While that doesn’t make her any less special, it does somehow deaden the milestones. I cried when Ashton started kindergarten. He was my first. And I know I’ll cry when Atleigh starts. She’ll be my last. But Chloe is... well, middle. I’ve done that. I’ll do it again.”

Wrong answer, apparently. I was immediately submitted to a barrage of uneasy chuckles and gasps of outrage. And then came the advice: Don’t ever let her hear you say that, make sure she always feels special, middle children can tend towards acting out if you don’t make sure you take time for them, etc, etc, ad nauseam.

Chloe has answered to a great many nicknames in her short life. Chlo-Chlo, the Chlo-ster, Chloe-Bug, Chloe Noey (A derivative of her middle name, Noelle)... but the name she answers to the most, and the most willingly, at that, is Princess. When I was pregnant with her, Jeremy and I decided we would never call any daughter of ours “Princess”. It was cliche, obnoxious, gave off the impression of spoiled brattiness. Well. We took one look at her, 2 minutes old, and cried, “She’s such a little Princess!!!” The name stuck, obviously.

Chloe is my easiest child. She slept through the night at 3 days old. You read that right. 3 days. She’s my helper. She makes her own bed, folds her clothes, puts her shoes away. Almost always puts her dishes in the sink. Of course, she’s far from perfect. Her squeal could shatter glass, and she’d rather tattle on someone and have them get in trouble than deal with the issue herself. She can be manipulative. But she’s... soft. Sweet. Genuine.  She is so, so special.

She also knows that she knows that she knows that she is a Princess. There’s never been a doubt in her mind. If anyone ever tried to convince her otherwise, they’d have a healthy argument on their hands. She walks like she owns the earth: shoulders back, head held high. I’ve raised her to understand and believe her value. I hope I have. And I hope that my referring to her as “a middle child” won’t undo that value in her mind.

I mean, honestly. Does this look the like the face of a girl struggling with middle child syndrome?

And, in case you were wondering, I proved myself (and my advice givers) wrong: I am not a soulless monster with a wicked stepmother complex. I definitely, definitely cried yesterday.

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