It is a universally acknowledged truth that for younger siblings, nothing is ever fair. This becomes even more pronounced when the siblings are fewer than 18 months apart and are both girls. Why does she get to sleep over at a friend’s house? Why is her birthday before mine? Why did she get that toy when I got this toy that’s different but equal in price and popularity and fun and maybe better but definitely not the same?
And the jealousy intensifies when it comes to field trips for school or class projects or spending time with me. Just imagine the chaos that ensues when we find ourselves with a task that involves both an age-based rite of passage AND spending time together.
Recently, these fates aligned again. We are Catholic and I have a second grader getting ready for First Communion. That means going to church weekly to witness the miracle of the sacrament. Which mostly just means whisper-scolding the younger one with “Yes you both have to pay attention!” every few minutes. It means buying a pretty white dress and matching veil for one child but not the other. It also means one more craft project two of us, not all three, are supposed to complete together.
We love crafts at our house. Correction, we love working individually on crafts at our house because we all may be just a liiiiiiiitle stubborn and because there is not enough of me to go around. Attempting projects together rarely ends without arguing, tears, and glue everywhere. But as this was a blessed event, we would try again, and we had an instruction sheet to follow, so surely we could make this work.
So we bought our burlap, felt, glue, and ribbon, and my 8-year-old darling eagerly asked one Thursday night if we could begin. Yes, let’s get to it, I said after pouring a glass of wine.
Since our family is not the most artistic, I wasn’t sure how we would draw the necessary religious symbols. But wait, I thought, Pinterest was created for just these types of projects. I forgot that Pinterest was actually better known for giving mothers hope and then dashing them quickly with outdated links or, worse, links to Google searches that I could have done myself. Or worse still, Bing searches. I should have just Asked Jeeves. By now it was bedtime and I’d have to look online another time. Cue the tears. From both kids for some reason.
A week and a half later we were ready: craft supplies laid out, religious symbols printed and ready for tracing, mom, grandma, and two kids.
Yes, this was a special project for my second grader, but of course, my first grader was hanging around the edges lamenting about the fact that she couldn’t do this craft yet. As I tried to suggest other activities (work on your fairy garden, clean the bathroom, get a job), and assure her she’d get her turn to do this next year, I realized the horror of what I’d just said.
I would have to do this same project again next year. The felt scraps, the burlap threads, the fabric glue, the whining, the dwindling patience. I would have to find the patience again next year to do this special family craft again. Unless. . .
And so, five minutes later, both girls were working on burlap banners, sewing the edges so they wouldn’t fray. “Are we allowed to do this, mom?” my first grader asked excitedly and incredulously.
“Of course, sweetie,” I said, with the pride of having appeased my younger darling while also avoiding a future project crisis. “Now, glue on your grapes.”