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The Middle Child
By: Marybel

© 2005 by Marybel.

I have an older brother and a younger sister, as such, was the Child Psychologist's perfect stereotype of The Middle Child Syndrome. My elder brotherwas allowed to stay up later, to be in charge in the absence of our parents and worst of all, was perpetually held up as a paragon of virtue. My younger sibling was the "baby" of the house and subsequently had to be deferred to and treated very gently!

To add insult to injury I had also been born a tomboy. I was always climbing trees, scrambling over walls, kicking stones in the gutter and playing football. Dad, who had the unenviable task of cleaning the household footwear every evening, became increasingly more incensed at the state of my scuffed toes and heels. One particular evening I was set to work with polish and cloths and ordered to make my shoes look respectable. It was an impossible task that later multiplied when I subsequently had to spend hours cleaning both myself and the kitchen floor.

Memoirs of a Middle Child ...chronicles an average family until tragedy strikes. Thrown into turmoil by horrific damage to the youngest child who should have died but didn't, the family ratchets through fifty years of good moments, terrible times, funny situations and circumstances of utter despair. A true story--sometimes unbelievable, sometimes heartbreakingly familiar--MEMOIRS OF A MIDDLE CHILD illustrates...redefining personalities, (and) restructuring family loyalties. => Buy It Now!

The next misdemeanor involved several neighbours. Outside every house on our road was a small patch of grass. Every Sunday afternoon lawnmowers could be heard up and down the road when everyone tended their plot. The only reason I was aware of this flurry was because of the lovely smell of newly mown grass all along the road afterwards. I wasn't the slightest bit aware of everyone's pride in their little bit of hallowed turf or I would never, ever have dug holes in some of the plots so that my friends and I could play marbles. Mum and Dad were extremely angry when some very unfriendly neighbours came to call. This time I had quite a few witnesses to my disgrace as I not only had to fill in the holes and scatter grass seeds over the offending gaps but had to pretend to be Worzel Gummidge every time any birds appeared.

The final straw with Dad was one afternoon a few weeks later. He caught some boys from the next street in our garden. They were frantically throwing tree branches and lumps of wood over our garden fence into the adjacement allotments. They didn't take long to sneak on me by telling Dad I had taken some of their bonfire wood and hidden it at the bottom of our garden. I tried to explain that they'd taken some of our wood first but dad wasn't in the mood to have a trial and jury. Once again, it was straight to bed, no outside play for a week and I was banned from Saturday's visit to a local park for games and a picnic.

That night I heard Mum and Dad discussing me as I crept along the landing to the bathroom.

"Can't you try and make her a little more feminine like her sister," complained Dad.

"I'll try and arrange..." said Mum. I didn't hear what she was going to do as my brother suddenly appeared on the landing pointing to my bedroom.

Saturday arrived and while Mum set off with my brother and sister for their day's outing I was marched off to work with my Father. I was given a chair in the corner of his Dispensary and ordered to "Sit there as quiet as a mouse until I tell you to move!" Funnily enough I quite enjoyed watching Dad mixing his potions and lotions. He made me think of the wizard in some of my picture books. At lunch time we both went to the little cafe round the corner and I was allowed to choose what I wanted to eat. I remember it was cottage pie...and I wasn't made to have any nasty vegetables on the side. I think that was one of my better punishments as it turned out.

That wasn't the end of my parents' plan to transform me. The following week Mum said, "I'm meeting you from school so we can go shopping."

"Great," I thought. "Perhaps I'm having some new roller skates or a football." No such luck. We went to a fussy-looking little shop that I'd often passed without a second glance. Today I noticed that the window was draped with ribbons, bows and all sorts of flimsy materials. In the centre was a large doll wearing a pink coloured type of bathing suit with soft shoes on her feet and a pink band round her hair. Entering the shop I saw the tiniest lady with lovely pink skin and twinkly eyes that seemed to crease at the edges when she smiled at me.

"You must be Janet," she said. "Are you looking forward to joining my class on Saturday?"

"Erm... yes," I said, not wanting to upset her.

Some time later I walked out of the shop clutching a pair of pink ballet shoes and a black costume called a leotard. My transformation was about to begin.

I was hooked from that first week. Miss Baguley, my ballet teacher, told us that dancers didn't play rough games. We had to learn how to be graceful. It wasn't an immediate transformation as I'd had such a shaky start but I began to enjoy being girly and loved my ballet lessons. Suprisingly, I stopped having early bedtimes, docked pocket money and missed treats, and I even began to like my brother...well.. a little bit anyway.

It must have been about two years later that my "piece de resistance" occurred. It was in Oldham Town Hall. The lights dimmed, the curtains parted and the audience fell silent as the door of the large box in the centre of the stage was opened. A painted doll-loke figure jerkily made her way out to the tones of the music from Delibes' Coppelia and performed a well-rehearsed routine before returning to her static position back inside the container.

Everyone clapped and someone even cheered. During the interval I popped into the auditorium to see what my family thought of my solo debut when I was mobbed by my fans. Three little girls clutching paper and pens rushed over to me and asked, "Can we have your autograph, please?"

Of course I obliged. They would treasure that piece of paper when I became a world famous ballerina.


Marybel is a retired Headteacher and has written several stories for children.

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