OPEN LETTER To my middle child

A mum of three writes a heartfelt letter to her middle child.

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To Sean my middle child,

For so many reasons, I’ve always thought of you as my ‘special child’. Now that you’re 5 years old, you’re such a quirky, feisty little bundle of energy. You still love your one-on-one snuggles with me and your buddy-time with daddy, whether it’s playing outdoors or watching cartoons on TV.

You get into plenty of fights with both your brothers, and although some of them end in tears, most end in laughter and hugs.

I remember when you were born, your big brother was 2 and pretty much a mini-tornado speeding his way around everything. On the other hand, you were such a “low maintenance” baby who hardly cried.

You were the baby of the family, with your long lashes, chubby cheeks and adorable thigh rolls that we simply couldn’t get enough of. For two short years, we thought of you as the littlest. Your big brother doted on you, and we loved how you completed our family.

As you started to crawl and then walk, you always seemed to be tagging alongside your big brother, following in his footsteps, trying to do things that he can do better than you simply because he’s older and bigger.

“Little did we know that your time as the baby of the family was short-lived.”

I’m sorry that you may always be compared to him, but I’ll have you know (as I secretly whisper into your ear at night), that there are many things you surpass him at.

When your kor kor was a baby, we had to rock him in our arms for close to an hour before he fell asleep. You, on the other hand, were happy to just lie in your cot after your milk feed, and drift off to dreamland.

As first-time parents, we fretted over your kor kor’s toilet training, but you took to it like a champ. You took one look at what your brother was doing in the bathroom, thought, “easy peasy”, and just followed suit.

We didn’t think much of it then, but we’re really thankful you were such an easy baby, because, little did we know that your time as the baby of the family was short-lived.

When we found out that we were expecting your little brother, we already had our hands full with two kids under 2.

 

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When your little brother came along, what little attention you received seemed to be even less.

You seemed to lose your baby-dom at super-speed. Daddy and I used to “divide and conquer” ― he would take charge of your big brother, while you would cling to me.

When your di di came along, you very quickly rose through the ranks and joined the “big boy” team with daddy, while your little brother seemed to claim a permanent spot with me, since he was nursing.

So, we “evicted” you from your own crib and nursery and psyched you to love your big-boy bed ― a bunk bed you share with kor kor.

“When your di di came along, you very quickly rose through the ranks and joined the “big boy” team with daddy.”

You embraced the changes, but not without some challenges. We see the frustration that you go through as you try to navigate your new role as both a little and big brother.

We’d notice how you’d try to baby your little brother, but then act up because you crave your own snuggle time in my arms. We’d see you trying to do big boy things like your big brother, then cry in anger when you get told that you aren’t doing it right.

We’d catch you trying to grab your kor kor’s stationery and toys, then scream at your di di when he tries to exactly what you do. Tantrums were aplenty, especially in the first couple of years after your little brother was born.

You seem to love being ‘different’ ― when your brothers say they like the colour blue, you automatically say that you like red. When your brothers say they want to eat chicken rice, we already know that you’re going to ask for something different (and it’s usually your favourite hor fun).

For all your quirkiness and, ahem, challenging behaviour, you bring colour to our days, as you’re constantly carving out your own special identity.

 

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Out of our three kids, you’re the only one who still crawls into our bed at 5am in the morning to snuggle with us because you say you miss us. You’re the one who goes to the library, but instead of picking out books for yourself, you pick out one for me, one for your daddy, and one for each of your brothers.

Just this year, we were busy preparing your older brother for Primary one, and your little brother for his first year in preschool. We assumed you would do just fine ― and you did. Later, your teachers told us that they call you the “little teacher” because you help to look after the younger ones ― this fills us with pride.

We hope you forgive us for the times that we seem too caught up with your brothers, and thank you for your patience. We hope you never feel neglected or unloved.

We hope you forgive us for the times that we seem too caught up with your brothers, and thank you for your patience. We hope you never feel neglected or unloved.

I also hope that, one day, you’ll realise what a unique and special position you’re in as the middle child, and embrace the pros and cons that come with it. Indeed, just by being you, you bring something to our family that no one else can.

You know how I said you completed our family when you were born five years ago?

My dear Sean, even now that we are a family of five these days, you make our family complete.”

With much love,

Mummy

Sabrina Tan, 33, is mum to Seth, 3, Sean, 5, and Sebastian, 7.

Photos: iStock

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