I love my kids- they are kind, funny, empathetic little humans. I work so hard to make them happy, to provide them all the joys I felt I was slighted as a child, I want them to want for nothing. But want is what they do best, and what I give never seems to be enough. This is when I must remind myself they are both little and also human.
For a whole year, I listened to Sparrow talk about his laser tag party. He was so disappointed when we celebrated 5 with those ungodly nature creatures, and yes, God forbid, bounce houses. And the worst part? Girls were invited! So I promised him next year it will be laser tag with all the boys he has ever known. And yesterday that day finally arrived.
In that year between 5 and 6 Sparrow lost 4 teeth and Mommy spent precious time (oh how precious the time) reading not one or two but 12 Captain Underpants novels with him. I admit, they were entertaining, and we giggled together at the potty humor and inappropriately named super villains. So it was only right that we made it a party with a nod to the Waistband Warrior. Since he is not yet a household hero, this meant custom invites, custom cake, and searching high and low for thematic goody bag ideas, complete with color coordinated bags and custom stickers to seal said bags. Maximum Mommy effort to make my middle man maximum happy.
The party was a hit. 30 sweaty riled up boys on a Sunday evening for running, shooting, screaming, and plain ol’ pigging out. Sparrow was spent after the 2nd round of laser tag but that wouldn’t stop him from balloon fights and cake smashing and giving himself bunny ears in every photo.
And then it was over. And the whining began. First, the birthday brother got the last goody bag. My assurances that we had plenty of extra fake poop, whoopie cushions, and light up hypno-rings at home were ineffective. Then, the birthday sister claimed as her own a few of the helium balloons we picked up on the way just to make the party a little more festive. The 30 presents in the trunk waiting to be opened simply weren’t enough.
His mood turned when the present opening began. He got everything he wanted and a lot of stuff he didn’t even know he wanted. His eyes lit up when he finally got the DS he’s been asking anyone who would listen for, not to mention a handful of games. Thanks Grandma(s)! He was elated, but when I looked to my left I noticed my Finch was deflated like the balloons still tied around Lark’s wrist (too tight I might add).
We spent the rest of the night trying to extinguish the fires of rampant jealousy, and no amount of sharing or reasoning or – embarrassingly- offering to buy him his own DS helped. It’s not fair, no one ever got him one when he asked, Sparrow has too many toys, too many friends, too much fun. It was just too much for the big brother.
It’s the most infuriating and helpless feeling to witness this level of sibling rivalry. But it’s also awfully familiar. As an oldest child I was often- ok almost always- afflicted with the same feelings. I was told to deal with it, but I’m not sure I ever did. So we’re working on it, together.
I believe children have the capacity to understand their hearts more than many adults do, but we don’t like to validate their feelings when they’re the ugly variety. If we don’t nip it in the bud now, they’ll be stuck with these traits forever.
How many times a day do you find yourself coveting something you don’t have, only to forsake all the blessings you have been given? (My answer, a whole lot)
How often does good fortune come to those around you, and while you are truly happy for them, a little part of you begrudges them their spoils and asks a higher power why nothing ever comes easily for you? (My answer, more than I’d like to admit).
I will continue to work my butt off to make my kids happy, and yes I am likely spoiling them a little bit as a result. But I can count on the fact that they will continue to feel like it’s never enough, and so my greatest parenting lesson will be helping them to see how lucky we all really are. Instead of complaining about how ungrateful they are, I will count my blessings and remember what good fortune I have to have them in my life.