Unless you have three children or come from a family of three siblings, it’s hard to know what it’s really like to be that middle child. In our family, there are three boys and while (as parents) we know the individual qualities that make each of our children special and unique and perfect and fabulous, ‘the middle’ often feels a little passed over in favor of the spotlight-grabbing bookend brothers. In the interest of convenience and manpower, we were guilty of doing what the parenting books cautioned against: the middle child was often dragged to the classes of the elder or play dates of the younger. His accommodating nature made it easy to justify his lack of activities by making the excuse, “He learns just as much from watching the older kids do it!”
He’d compromise television choices and ice cream flavors to please the other two. Even his bedtime is geared towards when his younger brother (and roommate) goes to sleep. It’s hard to prove to him how special he really is. He even brought it to my attention that these newsletter articles often highlight the foibles of my youngest and oldest sons but not as much is said about Spencer.
While I can’t go back in time and give him more classes or solo play dates, I do have the power to give him this! So last month, our family spent spring break in Hawaii. It was paradise.
I was able to leave the hectic world of westside real estate behind and focus instead on the sand, the sea and spending uninterrupted time with my wife and kids. One day, Lilli recognized a neighbor from Cheviot. They were traveling with another Cheviot family (one we didn’t know) and everyone was staying at the same hotel. Now, to backtrack a bit, at this particular hotel we were given the most amazing upgrade known to man. They had sold out and with nowhere else to put us, they basically handed us the keys to the palace: the Presidential Suite.
So, upon discovering that Cheviot families were in our midst and with an embarrassment of riches with regards to our enormous, ocean-view suite (it had a grand piano for goodness sake!), we decided to have a party and invite these neighborhood families up for cocktails and to watch the sunset.
They accepted our invitation and, amidst the glorious views and uproarious laughter, it struck us all as quite lovely that the bond of being from Cheviot Hills was strong enough to turn one-time strangers into newfound friends. But as fantastic of a night as ‘the party in the presidential suite’ was, it wasn’t the number one highlight of the trip. It wasn’t the whale watching or waterfalls, either. I think, if I had to choose the one memory of our week in paradise that will make me look back and realize that moments of pure happiness exist, it would be when I went out into the ocean with a surfboard and my son, Spencer.
It was just the two of us, enjoying the elements, sharing some laughs and I was able to introduce my great love of surfing to my cherished middle son.
Sometimes we go back to Goldilocks and the Three Bears to remind him that while one bowl of porridge was too hot and one was too cold, the bowl in the middle was just right. Spencer, you are just right and I love you. Surf’s up, dude. Let’s go.