Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Bonus

Today I was dealing with envy. 

My daughter who is ten, longs to be part of her older sisters' world. She's not. 

She loves shopping and sparkles and clothes and singing rock songs on the radio.  She knows who is who and what's what and has a fashion sense, but it is still laced with ponies and fairies and other things that scream child rather than teen, and so her overtures of friendship often falls on deaf ears because the older siblings see her with the stigma of being younger.   She was feeling it keenly, that no one in this family, is her close friend.  (Mom and Dad don't count).

It is a tricky parenting moment, because I can feel her heart like a bubble, threatening to burst with the pre-teen pain of not belonging, and of seeing that age barrier as being insurmountable.  

How does one convince someone who has only begun to establish friendships and connections and story arcs in her life, that there are far more wonderful as of yet undiscovered relationships and that her family will come to hold her tight even as she grows when all she can see is they didn't want her to go to the mall with them?  It would have been my right to insist, but I also knew, it would have been a misstep. 

"You have a unique position in our family." I explained.
"I'm a middle child." she answered.
"Yes.  So you will know both your older siblings and your younger ones in a way that neither know.  You will watch the older ones grow older and leave for school, you will also know the younger ones as they mature.  The older ones will be less familiar with their stories and struggles as they go out in the world.  You will be a memory keeper, of what they were like when they were younger for the younger ones, and of what the younger ones are like as they grow up, for the older ones.   You will have all the stories." 

Her eyes grew wide. She had not considered this possibility.
"I have a whole shelf full of journals." she offered, and got out of bed to show me.
"Write the stories of what happens, not just what you feel." I suggested.
She nodded, her mind full of the idea that somehow, being fifth of ten was a gift, a bonus. Whatever had threatened to pop with a flood of pain, was gone.  

Leaving and turning off the light, I made a mental note to buy her some more pens, and make sure whatever stories she might come to hold in that stack of books by her bedside, were as good as we could make them.


amele said...

Wow. I wish my parents had been able to impart this advice to me when I was your daughter's age. I also am a middle child, now in my forties, and I still am amazed when an older sibling doesn't know something about a younger, or vice-versa. Just reading this I realized how much of a bridge I have been, and still am. I will say a special prayer for your daughter.

Rose Godfrey said...

Sherry, that is just beautiful.

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