Thursday, August 27, 2009

Birthdays revisited, this one at home

Today is Youngest's birthday.  All in all, a great day.  Both girls had school in the morning, then we pulled Oldest out at 2pm for an entire family trip to see the Wiggles.  I mean, when the Wiggles come on your child's birthday and you love them as much as I (ahem, THEY, my KIDS) do, you have to go and it has to be the whole family, right? 

Great show.  Everyone had fun.  Then we came home. 

Youngest did not nap today and I can now say with certainty that she is NOT finished with those, no siree!  We decided to open presents while waiting for the pizza.  Here's what she got:
  1. a tricked out Kettler trike with a long push handle in the back
  2. some peg game thing
  3. bath crayons
  4. an Ugly doll - not an ugly DOLL, but the trademarked stuffed animals called Ugly Doll - her name is Feebee and she's . . . ugly, of course.  But adorably so.
  5. some clothes and bathing suits that I got at a great end of summer sale last week and decided to throw into the birthday mix for the hell of it
  6. a couple of Little People toys from Oldest that SHE BOUGHT HERSELF - God Bless 'er!
Does this seem like a lot?  In light of the EMBARASSING, MASSIVE birthday gifts I've gotten Oldest in years past, this seemed small to me - hence the addition of the clothing. 

Oldest opened everything for her.  This no one minded.  Then Oldest took everything out of its packaging for her.  And started playing with it all.  Youngest, hungry and on no nap and overstimulated from the Wiggles, started minding.  VERY LOUDLY.  

I started out kindly saying, "you know, Oldest, these aren't your presents, please let Youngest play with them."  Worked for . . . 2 minutes.  


Maybe I should digress very briefly.  We are a Montessori family.  And they teach there that "what's yours is yours (but not in a bad way - it's all about respecting people and property)" and you must ask AND ACCEPT THE ANSWER before you can take something from someone, join someone at a work they are doing, or generally get in someone's business.  So we follow that at home too.  I find that it works out much better than making someone "share" the moment (or immediately after) they acquire something and it teaches the person desiring the object manners, patience and respect.  I make Youngest abide by this with Oldest, but I have a much harder time getting Oldest to abide by this with Youngest. 

I'm pretty sure it's two reasons:
  1. Oldest had full reign over everything in the house for more than 5 years.
  2. Oldest lived through a year of Youngest not caring if she played with everything of hers because she was a cute little blob who lived to just watch her sister.
But now Youngest has a personality and opinions and she wasn't feeling charitable tonight.  And I don't blame her!  This was a painful lesson for Oldest, which, for awhile at least, made it painful for all of us. 

Picture Grandma showing up while Oldest is hiding under the computer desk, sharing with me through the chair (tearfully, and with much volume) how she wishes it weren't Youngest's birthday, that she's not getting anything.  Picture me eventually having to threaten to take away Oldest's cupcake access if she didn't stop with her surly attitude with Grandma thereafter.  Remind me to talk about transitions and the Gifted Child one day soon, when I'm not so busy pouring my painful days out on this.

This story ended nicely.  Everyone got cupcakes, Grandma enjoyed her time with the girls and CLAIMS she didn't even know there was some drama upon her arrival (I think she's being nice, which is one of the reasons I love my mother in law, she knows when to use tact).  Everyone went to bed happy. 
And here I sit, a little bit heartbroken.  That this Oldest child of mine, who loves her sister more than anything else on this planet (TRULY, she LOVES that girl), could be that petulant and surly about a couple of motherfucking presents!  Everyone did great at the Wiggles together, did great at dinner, did great with Grandma (after the first 30 minutes), Oldest did great with all of the well wishers to her sister at school today.  Shitty about the presents. 

So who am I really pissed at?  Not Oldest, though sadly, that's where I directed it tonight.  No, I'm pissed at me.  I should have trusted my instincts and gotten fewer presents - she doesn't need them or want them.  She's so happy with interactions with people, she doesn't even care about "stuff."  Didn't even notice when her sister opened them.  But I decided that she needed just a couple extra to open, so I wrapped up the clothes and stuff and made a few more presents out of it.  And I didn't need to - everyone would have been happier without them. 

Does anyone else have this happen?  One child turning into a beast on the other child's birthday?  Am I the only one?  I can't be, right?  I would love to hear how other people handle this.   

Looking for a little help out there  :)
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