Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Cousin's Great Idea

So ever since Big was born (nearly FOUR years ago!?!), Nine has been jealous.

Her perceptions consistently view him as having advantages that she doesn't have, even when the evidence points otherwise.

She always says that she wishes she weren't the oldest kid in our family, even after BioMom and I point out the pains of being the youngest (of four in both of our cases) and the advantages of not only being older but also of being the oldest.

She'll admit it. She's not ashamed of her feelings. You know how kids are so amazing that way -- taking things as they come, without judgment.

Sometimes her reactions seem almost violent. Within the first week of him being home she lashed out at me, saying that I did nothing for the family -- "Mom gave birth and I'm the big sister!!"

And my reactions to her feelings have also not always been, well, relationship-enhancing.

I find jealousy to be an ugly human reaction and have only recently have I really delved into my "inner child" so to speak and figured this out and have (finally) found some empathy for it and, consequently, for her.

So, I was talking with Cousin the other day about it something entirely different when I started to make some connections and Cousin offered her ingenious solution.

I was talking about how Nine has so much trouble just picking up after herself, and that sort of thing.

I know that all kids aren't naturally great at it, but as Big is getting older, and, seemingly, more fastidious, her left-behind messes are becoming more apparent to those of us (me) who end up following behind her and picking them up (or nagging incessantly).

Then it dawned on me: maybe she is doing that subconsciously to force us to continue to "care" for her. A way of passively remaining the youngest, by requiring that sort of attention perhaps?

Then Cousin said: Why don't you let her have a day where she gets to be treated like the youngest one?

This was seriously brilliant.

I proposed it to Nine and BioMom and now we've experienced a couple weeks of it. On Saturday, usually, Nine declares it her day. On that day I pick up after her without complaint, and do lots of things for her that I would normally kvetch about and do with great disdain and resentment (Yes... A parent who feels resentful!! You see it here, dear reader!).

On every other day, she is expected to do that stuff for herself.

This is the brilliance of the plan -- she gets to FEEL special, like she has a day off etc. but our actions don't really change much at all. The cost to me on that day is the same as it was on every other day prior to the regime change! But now, NOW, on every OTHER day, I at least have a CHANCE that she'll focus and change her behavior a bit.

Sheer, loving, behavior-enhancing brilliance.


Anonymous said...

Dude, your cousin is sooooooo smart! How did you live without her before she moved to town??

giddings said...

Hi Jackie.