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.