Unfairness between sisters

standard February 11, 2011 3 responses

When Little L was little C bent over backwards to make sure that her baby sister had everything she had. Cookies were split evenly. Toys were shared with no hesitation. And the only time C got upset was when Little didn’t get what she had also received.

Fast forward two years and the tables have turned. Now Little L makes sure C gets the same things she gets. She asks the cashier at Trader Joes for extra stickers and an extra lollipop for her sister. She tells C whenever I’m about to do something fun to make sure she comes. And she includes her in all the conversations she can, even when C is moping.

Sadly, instead of being grateful for her sister’s attention, C seems to resent it. Instead of being sad that her little sister doesn’t get to go to the same school as her, doesn’t get to be part of Spanish club, doesn’t get to have 1-on-1 French classes, doesn’t get to go to gymnastics, C seems bitter that Little L gets to go to daycare all day. Deep down I think she knows she has it better, but not knowing what her sister is getting while she’s not there to tally and take notes eats at her.

I watch her tally and count. I watch the envy grow in her eyes. I see it eat at her.

Tonight Little L came home with a box of Valentine’s exchanged at preschool today and it threw C into a rage. Forget that I had bought her a brand new leotard. Never mind that Little L had brought her a lollipop and stickers from Trader Joes. Nothing cheered her up. Her sister had a box with six, maybe seven cards and she just couldn’t get past it. It was unfair. She was oblivious to the fact that Little L’s excitement lay in going through the box with her so they could discover the goodies together and not in the goodies themselves.

At times when she has these tantrums all I can see is how ungrateful she’s being. I want to shake her and make her see how much she has. But I see her eyes and the anguish buried in there and at the same time I want to smother her in love.

Seven little cards covered in hearts and 3-year-old scribbles don’t make her less loved. That one heart lollipop in the box doesn’t make her less important than her sister. But she doesn’t see that. She only sees that she doesn’t have a box of her own. That she wasn’t a part of the fun.

As calmly as I can, I remind her once again, that to be truly happy in life you have to tally all the great things you have in your life instead of constantly counting what others have that you don’t. And then I walk away and hope that it sinks in. I don’t point out that she’s cheating herself out of a fun evening. I don’t let her sour our mood. I go to the kitchen and take her place at Little L’s side as she tears through her friend’s cards, and when she finally emerges I step away and let her take over, knowing full well that while this battle might be over, the war on jealousy has just begun.

Birthday with a side of whine

standard August 2, 2010 2 responses

The big 3-year-old birthday weekend started with

and ended with

which all looks sweet and loving and fun, but in the middle there were a lot of tears and even more whining.

It seems that our delightful oldest, always the first to comfort, cuddle, and love on her little sister, always first to make sure everything is fair and shared, only does well when she’s top dog.

And well, on her little sister’s birthday, she wasn’t, and she didn’t like it one bit.

The whining started as soon as they woke up, once she realized that the pile of wrapped presents didn’t contain one for her. I had warned her the night before that I didn’t have something for her, but that we’d be going to ToysRUs sometime during the day so that Little L could pick out her bike and while we were there she’d be allowed to pick out one. small. toy.

She spent the entire day whining and begging to go to the toy store. And when I say the entire day, I’m not exagerating one bit. She whined in the house, she whined through lunch, she whined at the birthday party for her best friend, she whined before nap, she whined after nap, she whined at the zoo (after whining that she didn’t want to go to the zoo), and she whined at dinner.

The only time she didn’t whine? Was when we were actually at the store. Oh, and when she was busy being mean to her sister, the birthday girl.
 
I’m tough with C. I don’t let her get away with much, and she’s usually pretty easy and good which is why this weekend was extra painful. We hated seeing this side of her, this calculating and comparing side, which weighed every single thing to make sure she was getting equal compensation. It was a brutal awakening to the fact that when it comes to her and Little L we usually let her be the boss. Since she’s usually so good at making sure that her sister gets her share, we didn’t realize what was going on.

This weekend Little L was delighted to be the center of attention, delighted to get to call the shots, delighted to be the one getting the better toys. When C whined she’d just stamp her foot, declare “It’s MY birthday!,”and completely refuse to back down.

This weekend marked more than just the beginning of Little L’s 4th year, I think it also marked the beginning of a more fair space, where C isn’t the only one who gets to decide what happens where. It’s time for Little L to get her time in the sun. She’s definitely not “just the baby” any more.