It was the big sisters 9th birthday!! As the stream of friends arrived for the party, the gifts piled up one on top of the other, on the table. Sulking by its side was the preschooler sibling. I hadn’t noticed the little one’s presence there, until the air resonated with her squeals all of a sudden. I slowly began calming her down, when between the sobs, she managed to say, “There’s nothing here for me”.
Clearly my four year old was feeling put out when her big sister was getting all the attention. Not having much grasp of time, she was having trouble understanding that her own birthday would definitely come at a later stage. It didn’t seem to help much as I explained that it was her sister’s day and her turn would come too. She definitely wanted her share of attention.
Sibling birthdays could be hard for many children. Most fail to fathom, why they aren’t getting as much attention as the other child at home, and most importantly, why they can’t stake claim the pile of gifts. I could have solved the issue by giving her a gift too. This would have been the easy way out. However, it just didn’t seem fair to me and, the elder one may start feeling resentful. So here was a tough task at hand!
I had to encourage the siblings to celebrate the occasion together, without the younger one needing an equal share of the limelight.
It took fifteen odd minutes to calm down the younger one and grab a quick tete-a tete with her, before we could get on with the party. It was an opportunity to teach her an important lesson, that not everything is about her and that she could find joy in doing nice things for others.
Getting her involved hands on with the party was the best thing to do. As she picked up her steps, she began to enjoy interacting and playing with the other children. It was her task to ensure that all those present, had picked up their snack plates and juice cups. She stacked up the gifts received , neatly in the corner of the room. Getting her involved in handing over return gifts to each of the children, was the best way to let her know that she was important around, even though it wasn’t her special day.
The best time of a kiddie birthday party is when the gifts are to be opened. As the evening slipped by, and the guests had all left, I yet again saw her with a sullen look staring at the pile. As the elder one, sat down beside the gifts, I requested the four year old to help her sister open them and have a look together. She eagerly jumped upon the task. With little baby scissors in hand and with great precision, she cut open the wrapped gifts and amidst the “Ooohs…” and the “Aaahs…” her smile slowly returned back.
I heaved a sigh of relief! I am not too sure, if I had managed to make her understand, that happiness is not just about receiving attention. But surely, I had managed to save the day by having two happy children at home.
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