Holding the title of “younger sister” has its perks. By the time the youngest makes his or her way to the teen years, parents are usually exhausted.
Bring on the relaxed curfews.
But we do have to suffer through a few tough moments, like hand-me-downs and jealousy. Oh yes, jealousy. It’s a dangerous demon, isn’t it? My youngest daughter, Gracie, has felt the jealously pangs lately. She watches her older sister, Ella, closely (as all little sisters do). Last week, with tears rolling down her sweet rosy cheeks, she asked me why Ella got to attend a birthday party and she didn’t? And then, since emotions were high, she threw in a few more disappointments.
“But why does Ella have more toys than me?”
“But why does Ella have more shoes than me?”
“But Ella always has a better birthday party than me. I’ve never been anywhere but my house for my birthday.”
You’re 5, kid. I’m 33 and I’ve never been anywhere for my birthday either. Suck it up.
I didn’t say that but my brain went there.
Instead, I took a deep breath, wiped the tears off her face and said, “My girl. It sounds like you’re jealous. You need to be careful with jealousy.”
“What does jealous mean?” she asked.
Here’s the tough part. I hardly feel qualified to give a lesson on this topic. I deal with jealousy often in my own mind. Maybe you do, too? Lately my jealous moments have surprised me and turn into little whining festivals, the “oh, woe is me” kind of whine.
“What is jealousy?” I ask. “Well, baby girl, jealousy is dangerous. Jealousy is when you want something that isn’t yours. Jealousy is when you have a hard time being excited for other people when they achieve great things, because you want those things too. Jealousy happens to kids, adults and even your mama.
I got her attention with that one.
“You get jealous too?” she asked.
Yes. Even me.
“Instead of being jealous, we should try to be happy for other people. And often times, we just need to have patience,” I added.
We’ve got the patience thing down.
“Think about it,” I told her. “You sister has more toys because she’s older than you and she’s been here longer than you. Your sister has more shoes because her feet are bigger than yours. Your sister gets to go to more birthday parties because she’s in school and knows more people than you do. But just be patient. You’ll get all these things someday too. And in the meantime, be excited for your sister!”
I don’t know if she picked up my sound advice as she switched the subject fairly quickly and continued on her way. She heard as much as a 5-year-old can. But you and I both know this wasn’t a pep talk for my daughter. It was a pep talk for me.
Be patient. Be thankful. Be excited for other people; really, genuinely, excited. Not the fake kind of excited that makes you grit your teeth and give the worst, best fake smile you can give. Be truly happy for your coworker, your business partner, your friend, your family member and yes, even your competitor.
Your day will come, too.
And like most things in this life, my 5-year-old (and her mama) has no idea how wonderful she already has it, as a younger sister, and as a girl in this lucky life. Sometimes, it’s tough to see the gifts right before our eyes.
Ironically, those jealous strangers can most certainly point them out.