Saturday, May 23, 2009

Struggling for Sibling Status



Believe it or not, my daughters almost never fight. Their one bone of contention, interestingly enough, involves my mother--their beloved Mimi. They had a real blow-out today ...

My cousin asked Belle to be the flower girl in her wedding. Naturally, Belle was thrilled at the prospect to be part of the attention and wear a pretty dress. She's a little fuzzy on what exactly a flower girl does, but she's stoked.

This morning, my mother called and wanted to know if Belle and I wanted to go to the bridal store in Nashua with my aunt and cousins. I had an eye doctor appointment at eleven (finally got my new contacts--woohoo!), a softball game to attend at one (several of my students were playing), and Addie had a haircut scheduled for three, so I was pretty tapped out for the day. My mother pointed out that it seemed that, while I might be busy, Belle seemed to be available. Long story short, Mimi took Belle for the day.

After Addie's haircut, we drove up the New Hampshire coastline, taking the scenic route to my mother's house. She and Belle were outside playing catch with Mollie when we got there, and they were very excited to share the details of the day. We had dinner (spaghetti and salad, mmmmmm :-)), and as we finished eating, I realized something interesting.

Addie was ripped. I mean, she was furious.

Obviously, she wasn't furious so much as she was jealous. She was the first granchild, and my parents spent a more active role in her early upbringing than most grandparents do. Therefore, Addie is used to being the light of Mimi's life. The only light of Mimi's life. My mother has always been very, very careful to make sure that Addie doesn't feel usurped from her position as princess-on-a-pedestal as far as her grandmother is concerned. However, today was unquestionably Belle's day. As far as I'm concerned, she deserved it--Addie has owned her grandmother's adoration and special moments with Mimi for fourteen years, while Belle has never had the same kind of experience. She was thrilled at the chance, thrilled at the day, thrilled at the flower girl prospect, and thrilled to be "Mimi's Girl" for a day.

I think what sent Addie over the edge was when Belle announced to her grandmother, "Mimi, I think I'm going to come live with you." Mimi said this was absolutely fine with her, and Addie's eyes just about popped out of her head. I guess Addie might as well get used to it, though--in addition to my girls, Mimi is now grandmother to Adam's little Pete (unspeakably cute, I might add) and Mary and Jon's baby is due any day now.

Do you think most parents and/or grandparents have "favorites"? Is it possible for this title to be usurped? Do all kids feel like they are the favorites sometimes (I've said to both Belle and Addie when told that I like the other one better that they are both my favorite, depending on the day)? How devastating is it for a child to realize that they are not the one and only? Is "favorite status" really all it's cracked up to be, or is it a double-edged sword? Given the interesting triangle between Mimi, Addie, and Belle, who do you feel most badly for, if any of them?

It's not a big deal, really. I mean, everyone ended up happy, and Mimi had a great day with Belle and a great dinner with all of us. It just got me thinking about some of this stuff ...