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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sibling Envy

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods...
...nor thy older brother's trip to upstate New York with Grandma...
...nor his bigger piece of chicken...
...nor his ability to read books that are way beyond your level of understanding...
...nor his going to a 7 pm baseball game with Daddy that'll keep him out way beyond your bedtime...

Mary (age 6) has an acute sense of justice. Translation: She knows when everything's not "Even Steven."

She'll count peanuts, if she has to.

Or even popcorn kernels.

So, when offered an overnight with Grandma and Grandpa to make up for her brother's trip earlier this summer to Nebraska, she asked: "Does this one night count for the WHOLE trip or for just one day of the trip?"

Do you think she'll be a lawyer some day?
Or maybe a politician?

Let me say that while Mary is very concerned that everyone gets what is coming to them (ahem, yeah, justice works both ways, you know), she also has a very generous nature.

When one of the eyes of David's (age 10) wooden snake popped out, never to be found again (and he pouted), she offered to actually pry out one of the eyes out of her wooden snake so he could put it on his. The one without paint on it, of course. And, she meant it.

This isn't about wanting more. It's not greed. (Ok, there's probably a little greed, she is human).

I think she feels like she's being left out. She's missing something, some integral part of being.

She has this sense of urgency, this feeling that if she doesn't do it this time, she's missing the opportunity of a lifetime---and it's lost forever.

Sure, I can say there will be other baseball games when she's older. But I also try to point out that...

Life isn't fair...

in the sense that everything is "Even Steven."

Each of us has different opportunities and challenges...she'll have opportunities in the future that her older brother won't have. And the whole of these is a part of the unique experience of God's world that each of us has.

She doesn't get it.

How can I expect her to, when I didn't get it myself until recently.

Childhood angst. I'm sure this is only a preview of what is to come.

How do you deal with feelings of inequity between your kiddos?


  1. Great question - I have no idea! We try to emphasise in many things that you get to do it 'around a certain age'. For example, we do not let kids start any sport/lesson/outside activity until they are at least 6 years old. So my oldest has been doing ballet for a few years while younger siblings don't do anything. The next child will be 6 this fall... leaving 3 youngers to complain, 4 when the baby is here.

    We also try to find things each child enjoys that the others do not. For example, one child loves video games, while his younger sister couldn't care less. So when she gets to do something he can't join in on, he may get to play a video game if he's not had a tantrum about the unfairness of life.
    I'll be checking back to see if you get any great ideas, I could use them.

  2. Good suggestions!

    Dear Mary simply can't accept that her brother is almost 4 years older than her...she wants it all, right NOW!

    I try to remember what it was like to be that age. It's a little hard, because I'm an "oldest," as is my hubby. But we try very hard to be sympathetic, I think that helps.


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