So far, we have eight middle children in our family. They say that in any family with three or more children, the middle children tend to get the least attention and that lack of attention has a peculiar effect on their personalities.
I don’t really know who “they” are, and I don’t really understand all of the implications of their research, but I do wonder what they might think of the little expirement we have going.
Noah is our fifth child and third boy, and in a family of ten children, you can’t get any closer to the middle than that. Noah is definitely unique, though, and I’m not sure whether that quality comes as a result of, or in spite of, being a middle child. Either way, I can assure you, he’s anything but mediocre and he gets plenty of attention.
Noah reminds me of that penguin in the movie Happy Feet who was dropped by his father when he was still in the egg and turned out to be a dancer with a terrible voice in a world full of singing penguins. I’m pretty sure Noah has never been dropped on his head, but who knows what Renee was eating while he was being formed.
About a year ago, the local AWANA club, a Bible study club for kids, which our children attended, had a talent show. The week before the talent show, I was picking up the kids after the club meeting and amidst the chaos of 100 kids trying to find their parents and get their coats and get to the right car, Noah was pestering me about signing up for the talent show. I asked, “what are you going to do?” With a giant smile on his face, he said, “I’m going to dance!”
More for the sake of just ending the conversation and getting out of there than anything else, I said, “Sure, Noah, whatever. Go ahead.” I didn’t realize until later what I had committed myself to.
Noah has never had a dance lesson in his life. He’s eight years old and tall for his age, skinny as a rail, and has as little coordination or natural rhythm as the typical eight-year-old.
I was in shock. Noah kept laughing. He picked a song – Carry Me by Jars of Clay – practiced his moves a few times and never even flinched. Renee and I spent the week talking about whether we actually had to attend the talent show, but there was no reasonable escape to be found.
When the night came, our family nervously filled the back row of the church. We watched some of the other kids displaying their talents; playing the piano, the violin, even singing. Our son, Ben, was 9 at the time, and his talent was completing the Rubik’s cube in under three minutes, which was rather impressive, and a proud moment for me. When it was Noah’s turn, he marched boldly to the stage, took his place without hesitation, and waited for the music to start.
Then, Noah danced. Wow! He jumped and ducked and spinned and shook with no choreography, little rhythm and nothing remotely like a routine. All by himself on the stage in front of something like 60 of his childhood peers and a bunch of parents, for almost four minutes with the song of his choice blaring through the church, he danced his heart out.
I cringed. I flinched. I crouched in my pew. I blushed. I laughed out loud and rolled my eyes. And, I was overcome with pride. It was amazing!
There was applause and laughter and high-fives all around, and adults with red faces going, “Wow!”
A few months later, while visiting friends in Michigan, Noah perfromed the dance again by request. If you ask him, he’ll probably do it for you.
When I grow up, I want to be like Noah. You know that motivational saying that’s something about dancing like no one’s watching? I want to be like Noah and dance like everyone’s watching!