The school report cards for my two oldest girls came in the mail last week.
I suppose that it's normal for children to have rivalries with their siblings. In that regard, my two older girls are just like everyone else. My oldest, who turned 9 in April, seems to have chosen pestering my next oldest, who turns 7 in August, as her true calling in life. It's always interesting to see the way that they can be buddies one minute, and at each other's proverbial throat the next.
I looked at their report cards. As usual and expected, my oldest received good marks. As usual and expected, my second girl got stellar marks, along with copious teacher notes about what a pleasure it is to teach her, how far ahead of her class she is, we should consider eventually putting her ahead a grade, etc.
Children are individuals, and find a way to define themselves. In many families, one child is the athlete, one is the dancer, one is the A+ student, etc. But what if one kid decides to steal all the titles?
For my two younger children, this is not yet an issue. My son, at 2 years old, is too young to know the difference. He basically has down the concept that he and Daddy are the "boys", and Momy and his sisters are the "girls", and that because of that only he is allowed in the bathroom when Daddy is taking a shower. Beyond that, he has no clue.
My third daughter, at 5, is just about to enter Kindergarten in the fall, so she doesn't have a full grasp of interpersonal rivalry yet, either.
My second daughter has a wealth of gifts. Already mentioned is her intelligence. She is very proud of the fact that she can read "chapter" books. She is also a very talented athlete. She loves to run. Just over a year ago, at the end of her Kindergarten year (she just finished first grade a few weeks ago), her school had a fundraiser where the kids got their family to pledge money for them to run laps around the track at a local college, $x per lap. She ran farther than any other child in her school, except for a single sixth grader. For fun, and special one-on-one time, she wants me to take her down to the track and time her while she runs laps. And all three girls go to dancing school, and my second daughter is the most talented of them.
I don't worry so much about my third daughter. She is beginning to show some of her older sister's academic talent, she is the second best dancer (and has enough enthusiasm for it to close the gap somewhat), and has a personal flair for the dramatic that sets her apart. She won't have trouble making a name for herself. But my two oldest, because they bicker, I worry about them more...
I want my oldest girl to know that I love her, and that I am so proud of her, just who she is. But then I worry that I feel like I am overcompensating, and perhaps not paying enough attention to my second girl, and maybe she does so well at everything because she feels driven to try hard at everything to get my attention over her older sister. Then I worry that I am overcompensating in the other direction, and by making sure to praise and recognize my second girl my oldest will feel that I am neglecting her in favor of the one who seems to be good at everything. And of course, then I worry that I am paying too much attention to the oldest two, at the expense of the younger ones.
It's not always easy. I do the best I can to let them all know that I love them, and I am proud of all of them, and of all of their accomplishments.