Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal - or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help.

Three times a month, I'll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don't worry about grammar or punctuation - just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.

And who knows? Maybe you'll discover a character for your next short story or a theme for a narrative essay. Or maybe you'll use the idea to create a special holiday card or photo album for someone in your family. However you decide to use your journal entry, I know you'll enjoy re-reading it months--and years--down the road.

My husband and I learned something very important at the parent-teacher conference with our son's first grade teacher: he was different at school then he was at home.

"I have no concerns about his academics," she told us. "He's excited to learn, and he's so friendly. He just needs to work a little on recognizing when it's appropriate to socialize and when it's time to stop talking."

"Geoffrey talks too much? You've got to be kidding." We were dumbfounded. At home, he hardly said a word, and we usually had to ask three questions to solicit the comments he did make.

"Oh yes," she continued. "He's quite the chatterbox. With everyone! He has one or two buddies that he's always talking to, but he'll talk to anyone who's near him. And I've noticed that if a child has a problem, they seek him out and he listens to them." And then: "He's not talkative at home? Well, that's not unusual, especially for a child who has an older sibling - and don't you have a younger child too?"

We walked home from the conference, mulling over Mrs. Seiler's comments about middle children. In addition to talking about the dynamics in our family of five, she'd related a bit of her own experiences raising three children and the unique aspects of the middle child.

Catherine Salmon and Katrin Schumann address this issue in their new book, The Secret Power of Middle Children. Their research dispels the myths that middle children are unable to find their place in the world, that they shy away from the spotlight, and that they're bitter, resentful, underachievers, and loners.

"In reality, contrary to expectations, middleborns are agents of change in business, politics, and science--more so than firstborns or lastborns. Middles are self-aware team players with remarkable diplomatic skills. Because they're both outgoing and flexible, they tend to deal well with others--in the workplace and at home. They're more motivated by fairness than money when making life choices, and have a deep sense of family, friends, and loyalty."

Birth order isn't the only characteristic that determines what a child does or how he/she interacts with family and friends, of course, but I think it's an interesting concept to explore. Listen to this interview with the authors, and then, consider these middleborns: Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Darwin, Michael Dell, Elie Wiesel, Yassar Arafat, Abraham Lincoln, Anwar Sadat, The Dalai Lama, Benjamin Franklin, Magic Johnson, Dwight Eisenhower, Desmond Tutu, Warren Buffett, Donald Trump, Lech Walesa, Bob Hope, Tony Blair, Golda Meir, Ernest Hemingway, Tom Selleck, Patty Hearst, Madonna.

Journal Entry: Describe an experience you've had with a middle child. How would the experience have been different if it had been with that individual's older or younger sibling?

Karna ConverseĀ is a freelance writer who’s written everything from technical documentation and price proposals to newsletter articles, devotionals, personal profiles and essays. Her essays have been published in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, the Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup anthologies, Our Iowa, and on Iowa Public Radio. She and her husband are parents to three young adults. Karna is a former blog editor, senior editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief of Literary Mama.

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Interesting story. Thanks for sharing it. Middle children -- the birth order info and how it influences our lives is interesting. Cheri
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