Never Underestimate the Middle Child

Don’t let the dimples fool you. This kid is as tricky as he is cute. Here he is painting in the driveway.

I was going back over my old posts and realized I haven’t made much mention of our four-year-old son Luke. He is and always will be, the epitome of the middle child exemplified here again by how infrequently I’ve written about him. But make no mistake, I love him so much it hurts. He is my only snuggle bug. He gets upset when the other two kids are sad about something and has cried real tears when Gracie has fallen down and gotten boo-boos. He is also the one with the quick wit, jealousy issues, a stubborn streak that seems unassuming until you hit a nerve and then watch out! He comes across like this quirky little goofball, but I am beginning to see that Luke is not to be messed with.

As I have described our son Noah, it probably seems fairly obvious that while he is a very loving child and generally considerate older brother, he can also be very overbearing. There have been many occasions where I have been worried that Luke won’t be able to hold his own. But my concern is futile and the following story will illustrate that.

A few days ago, we were visiting my parents. My sister and her son Joey were also over for the afternoon. After we had all eaten lunch, my sister was trying to get Joey to take a nap upstairs.The boys were being loud and crazy downstairs making it impossible for her to get him to settle down. So I suggested to my boys that we go downtown to the bakery to get a cookie. Luke was excited to get out for an adventure. Plus, he loves the cookies at the local bakery so he was an easy sell. I asked Noah to come with us, but he wanted to stay at Pops and Lulu’s house. Still, he was pestering me to bring him back a cookie. I told him he had to come with us if he wanted one. I was doing my best to bribe them to come out so Joey could get to sleep. Noah refused after throwing a temper tantrum so Luke and I left.

At the bakery, Luke sat in his chair on his knees and ate his dinosaur sugar cookie. He smiled his big goofy grin at me between bites. Then I saw his eyebrows turn up as he formulated a question. I waited for it. Luke usually takes a bit to get to the point.
“Mama?”
“Yeah buddy?”
“Can we play a trick on Noah?” he asked me. I laughed. I couldn’t believe my ears. My sweet, innocent Luke was plotting a scheme.
“What were you thinking about?” I asked breaking off a piece of his cookie to sample.
“I want to tell him we got him a cookie, but then say, ‘Just kidding.’”
I was cracking up. “Wow! You are sneaky! But, you know what Noah’s going to say, right?”
“What?” he asked smiling wickedly.
“He’s going to say, ‘Hmpf! I don’t love you anymore!’” I said, imitating Noah’s whine perfectly.
Luke erupted in a real belly laugh and he almost choked on his cookie. Then he stopped and looked at me with a smirk. “I’m not afraid.”
This sent me into hysterics. He laughed again too, thinking probably that I was laughing at how Noah would react, not at his sneaky little scheme.

So we got back to my parent’s house. Noah was zoned out watching a cartoon with my mom, my sister, Gracie and Joey. All was quiet. Luke looked up at me. “Tell him, mama,” he whispered.

“This was your idea. You say it,” I whispered back. Luke was losing his nerve a bit, but I could tell he was still dying to do it. While Noah sat unaware and watched his cartoon, I quietly told my sister and my mom about Luke’s plot. They giggled softly not believing Luke had hatched this plan on his own. I positioned myself between Noah and Luke on the couch to buffer the inevitable retaliation.
Finally, Luke spoke up, “Noah,” he said sweetly.
Noah looked at Luke, giving him a dirty look. “What?” he said. He was still mad that we had left without agreeing to buy him a treat.
“Noah, Mommy got you a treat at the bakery,” Luke said slowly with a twisted smile spreading across his face.
I held my breath.
“A cookie?!” Noah squealed.
“Yep!” Luke was wiggling all over the couch trying to contain his delight.
“YAY!” Noah bounced on his bottom. “Where is it, Mom?” he asked.
“Just kidding!” Luke laughed devilishly. “We didn’t buy you a cookie.”
Then almost exactly as I’d predicted Noah said, “Hmpf! I don’t love you anymore!” Then Noah looked right at ME and started swatting my arm repeatedly. Luke was rolling but also scooted quickly over to my mom for further protection from the wrath of Noah. He had bested both of us! I couldn’t believe it! It was like he knew I would be the one to be punished for his wicked little scheme.

It is foolish of me to think Luke is ever going to get trampled by Noah’s big personality. Now I know, I should underestimated ever again.

They really do love each other…most of the time.

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