You are a wonderful big sister. The best. You are funny, helpful, and even take the time to teach Julieboo new things. The games you invent are so creative, and you have so much compassion for her when she’s having a rough day. She is blessed beyond words to have you as her role model and best friend.
But I see the frustration building up. Your expression, your stance, the tone in your voice. You’re getting annoyed. You’re tired of being told what to do. Tired of being told to put your clothes away. Tired of being asked to help out. Tired of having to eat what we eat for dinner instead of chicken nuggets like Julieboo. Tired of sharing with your sister. Tired of being expected to be more responsible.
You want the same freedoms that Julia has.
It isn’t fair. She doesn’t have to clean up every mess she makes all by herself. Doesn’t have to put her clothes away on laundry day. Doesn’t have to finish her dinner, even though there are only three carrots on her plate. Doesn’t have to share. Doesn’t have to put on or take off her shoes. She gets away with everything. She can scream, cry, carry on, break the rules, she can say no.
From your perspective, Julia can do whatever she wants. From your perspective, it isn’t fair. And you are absolutely right. It’s not. She does get away with more than you do. She doesn’t have to eat all of her dinner. She doesn’t have to clean up every mess she makes by herself. She doesn’t get into trouble every time she forgets to put her shoes away. And sometimes when she hits you she only gets a soft reminder instead of a time-out.
I know there is no way for you to know this, and it may be hard for you to believe, but life wasn’t much different for you at her age. All of these extra “unfair” things that happen to her and for her – well, they happened to you and for you as well. You didn’t have to eat everything at dinner. You didn’t have to put your shoes away, clean up by yourself, or even put hangers back up in the closet.
You were 2 years old once too, and Daddy and I knew that as you grew you would learn to become more responsible. We knew that the older you got the more we would have to expect out of you. So, little by little as you grew, our expectations of your behavior and ability to care for yourself grew too. At some point we started to ask you to put your toys away by yourself and eat what we ate for dinner. And little by little you grew more independent. You even asked us for more responsibilities! You loved being trusted to get a job done, being treated like a big girl.
Then Julia came along, and you became a witness to how Daddy and I have raised you, but without the memories. You’ve watched us “favor” her without realizing that you, too, were the object of our leniencies for many years. It can’t be easy.
But I want you to know that Julia’s day is coming. Life won’t always be this way for her. Eventually, as she grows, she will also be expected to set the table, put her laundry away, and demonstrate respect to everyone around her. She, too, will be expected to make her bed before school every morning and control her temper when frustrated.
And the funny thing about this is that as she’s growing and earning more responsibilities, you will too – but your responsibilities will involve driving… sleepovers (maybe)… movies and shopping trips with your friends. Because you’ve had more time to build our trust you will have earned privileges that she still has to work for. And one day, she will be the one telling us that it isn’t fair.
Parenting is hard, Emily. It’s impossible to make everyone happy – impossible to demonstrate impartiality in every situation. But know, more than anything else, that we love you – and every choice we make is based on that love. You are amazing.
Love always, Mommy.