My two youngest children have hit that delicate point in their relationship where Child Number Two becomes the object of envy, because of all the "big-kid" things she is now allowed to do. It used to be that my eldest daughter was the one swanning off to school and classes and events. Back then, it was easier for the youngest two to handle being left behind, because they still had each other. However, now, it seems, there is usually just one little chick left in our family nest. I now have two "fledglings" who are out and about, testing their wings.
Last weekend, Child Number Two was invited to an "Almost Sleep-Over" birthday party. The event was held during the day, and although no-one would actually be "sleeping", the guests were invited to wear their pjs, and bring stuffed animals and sleeping bags. It was a highly anticipated event-- Child Number Two has not yet felt comfortable enough to spend the night at a friend's house, and she figured that this daytime shin-dig would be good practise, as well as good fun.
Her little sister trailed after her as she assembled all the "equipment" she'd need for the festivities... Poor Wee Three had started out being thrilled at the prospect of a party, but became considerably less than enthusiastic when it dawned on her that she might not be invited, too. The full extent of her distress occurred when I had to confirm her suspicions, and said that she was simply too young for the party-crowd... Not even the promise of lovely alternative activities (baking, gardening, crafts) could convince her to stifle her angry yowls of protest.
That is, until Child Number Two began searching for a suitable stuffed animal to take with her.
Wee Three stopped crying immediately, and piped up:
Wee Three: (in-between sobs) You can take SMARTYPANTS, i'you like...
Child Number Two and I immediately stopped what we were doing, and spun around to look at her. Because Smartypants is Wee Three's most beloved stuffed hippopotamus. He is absolutely gorgeous-- soft and squishy, with beautiful eyelashes and "teeth" and everything... and he's nearly as enormous as Wee Three, herself.
Child Number Two: (incredulous) Wow. THANKS.
She took Smartypants and crammed him gently into an oversized plastic bag, before her little tyrant sister had a chance to change her mind.
Once we had delivered Child Number Two to the birthday party, Wee Three and I were alone in the Loser Cruiser, and headed to Dairy Queen for a treat.
Mother: (catching her youngest child's eye in the rear-view mirror) Well. That was a REALLY nice thing to do, loaning your best stuffed animal like that. You made your sister SO happy. I'm proud of you, sweetie... What made you change your mind, and decide to be nice?
Wee Three: (nonchalantly) Oh, I just knowed there would be cake at the party. And Smartypants LOVES cake... it's his best thing...
Suddenly, an evil, Grinch-like smile began to spread across the face of my youngest child.
Wee Three: (all but rubbing her hands together with glee) Smartypants loves cake SO much... he's going to eat Sissy's cake all up, so there's NONE left for HER.