The other night Ike was moping around the house. Alisa and I started talking to him, and before too long we discovered that he was feeling the blahs. I am an oldest child, and Alisa is almost an oldest child (not sure how birth order fits into a large family like hers), so we don't have a lot of insight into the life of a quintessential middle child.
What Ike was saying about his feelings made me think about an old A A Milne poem from When We Were Very Young called "Halfway Down." I read him the poem, which, if you don't know it, goes like this:
Halfway down the stairs
is a stair
where i sit.
there isn't any
i'm not at the bottom,
i'm not at the top;
so this is the stair
Halfway up the stairs
And it isn't down.
It isn't in the nursery,
It isn't in town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head.
It isn't really
It's somewhere else
After listening to the poem and to me and Alisa tell him about how maybe halfway didn't have to be stairs but it could also mean being the middle child, which was an important and unique position in our family, Ike opened up his iPad and drew this:
He said, "I'm just a little bit below halfway down."
First off, this is heartbreaking. Second, it's just a little bit brilliant.
I'm not sure what to do with the boy, but I know that I want him to hold on to this part of himself, it's sad and beautiful and wonderful and not at all what regular folks look for in their lives. I think his melancholy is going to give him amazing insights. I also worry that our culture is going to want to medicate him at some point.
I should say that I don't think he's depressed, not in a clinical sense. I think he's emotionally sensitive: a feeler. He's sharp, perceptive, focused, observant. He has an amazing memory for detail, and he's downright hilarious.