Middle kid syndrome. If you are a middle kid, you understand this. If you are an oldest or youngest, chances are you don’t really have a clue about it, unless something happened in your life that caused you to suffer. What exactly is middle kid syndrome? It is that situation where you are ignored by your family because attention is paid to the older kid or the younger kid. You learn to be invisible so as not to cause grief because you parents have other stiff to deal with. Quietly, you go about your business. If people notice you, it is mostly because you ended up doing something really amazing that called for praise.
Perhaps in school, your parents got a note from a teacher about a great thing you did in school. Or maybe you play a sport and scored the game winner. In any event, most of the time what you do goes unnoticed.
There is another group of people who suffer middle kid syndrome and these people really go out of their way to not be a burden to their parents and family. Those people are siblings of those who have cancer. Specifically, I am talking about kids who have a brother or sister who has cancer.
Let’s get something out of the way: CANCER SUCKS! What it does to people is awful. Nevermind those who actually have the disease. Those who care about someone fighting cancer just don’t know how to be around someone with cancer. At times you feel helpless because someone is suffering and you can’t help. Or you end up saying the dumbest stuff to the person.
Now, imagine you are a kid anywhere between the ages of five to 19. Your brother or sister has cancer. You feel bad, but you also have your own issues as a kid. Maybe you are having a hard time in school. Maybe you’re trying to navigate your first boyfriend or girlfriend. You really need an adult to talk to. Maybe mom or dad, but you can’t talk to them. Not because Mom or Dad is a horrible person (though sometimes they might be) but because they don’t have time. They have bigger things to deal with. Like your little sister who has a brain tumor.
Some days, you might feel like maybe you’d get some attention if you were sick. But immediately you realize that thinking this way is horrible. Who would wish to be sick to get attention? Besides, you are watching your sibling going through treatments to get better, to live. You know being sick is not the way to get some attention, for someone to notice you.
Now imagine, you could do something to help a kid who might be suffering from middle kid syndrome. You could do something to give that sibling something so that the kid isn’t feeling in the way. A chance to put that kid in touch with other kids who understand exactly what they are going through having a sibling with cancer and how there is a need to want to feel special without burdening Mom and Dad.
Well, there is a way you could do that. If you have read any of my posts in the past, you know that I am a runner. In the past year, I have gotten kind of good at it. So good in fact that I can call myself a runner and not feel like I am lying about that fact. Back in 2006, I tried to run the Chicago Marathon as a charity runner, but things went horribly wrong and I didn’t finish. I also vowed I would never be a charity runner again because it was just too hard (for reasons I’d rather not discuss here, but you can always contact me to find out why it was so hard to do.)
This year however, I’ve gone back on my word. In my afternoons spent listening to sports talk radio (and I really need to stop it because it is bad for me) I heard about a great organization called Team One Step Camp. This organization sends children with cancer to camp. It is an opportunity for those kids who have or had cancer to experience a “normal” childhood activity. If that isn’t enough to get you, then let me tell you about what made me decide that I had to raise funds for them: in some cases, they will send siblings to camp as well. The sibling camp is a place where those kids who have brothers or sisters fighting cancer can go to enjoy some childhood activities without having to try to stay invisible and not be a burden to Mom and Dad. When I heard they had this camp in addition to the one for kids with cancer, I knew I had to help them. Why? Because while it is nice to raise funds for cancer research, sometimes it can be much more powerful and meaningful to do something RIGHT NOW for those kids.
So, in 2013, my goal race to cross the finish line will be the Chicago Marathon. And I’m going to do it as a charity runner for Team One Step. If you would like to help me send kids with cancer and in some cases their siblings to camp, you can go to my page and help me do just that. It is a small thing, but it can bring so much joy to kids who are fighting for their lives as well as give some attention to some children who are part of a group of ignored people, no matter how hard they try not to be ignored by others.