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Just Life: Keeping it even with the kids

March 2, 2012

When we adults decide to become parents and have more than one kid, the consistency of splitting things evenly among the kids is in the top-10 list of what makes a decent parent. I’m not sure when the if-he-has-that-then-I-get-one-too syndrome starts and I’m sure it’s different for every gang of siblings. 

Maybe it starts with the older kid wanting to get fed a bottle too, because his baby sister gets to be fed by mom and lie peacefully in her arms. Or maybe the right-of-equality starts when the kids are toddlers and the parents have to buy an equal amount of ice cream for each sibling.

My boys shared a room when they were little and I had to make sure that I read them each the equal amount of books before bedtime. I sometimes had to read the same book twice because if one kid got to hear the story close up then the other kid had to hear the story close up. (I finally figured out that if I had them both in one bed when reading one book, it saved time.)
 
Somewhere along the line they figured out what “shotgun” meant when riding in the car so if I had both boys with me on an excursion one would have to ride “shotgun” on the way there and the other would have to ride “shotgun” on the way home.
 
If one spent a special night with grandma then the other had to have a special night with grandma. And so on, and so on. Parents hope that the siblings-in-question eventually grow out of, or start to not care, if their brother or sister gets a bigger piece of the apple pie.  At least that’s what we hope.
 
Fast forward to a few days ago.  My youngest son (who is 23) had a desire to visit his family in Mammoth Lakes but there was a condition. He would come to visit on the condition that “said mother” had to make sure to bake her almost-famous chocolate chip banana bread and stuffed shells so “said son” could bring the “said entrees” back home with him. 
 
I had no problem with that. I enjoy cooking for the kids. It’s like I’m making up for the time in their lives when I could barely pour them a bowl of cereal let alone make up my own recipes for them to devour. So when I’m asked by one of the kids (and this includes my new stepdaughters) to make something they like—and I’m not in the middle of a hot flash which would preclude me from wanting to be anywhere near an oven—I do it with love and gratitude.
 
My youngest came and left two days later before the heavy snowfall prevented him from trying to drive home in his two-wheel drive vehicle. Erik had to go back to his world of make-up artistry so he couldn’t afford to get stuck at mom’s house. I loaded up the freshly baked chocolate chip banana bread and the stuffed shells into the back of his Jeep, dusted of the snow from his windows and waved him goodbye as he backed out of our driveway. 
 
Erik has specifically asked me to make the above treats so I was totally caught off-guard when I received a text message from Erik’s brother (who is 25) that read something like, “You made ‘E’ stuffed shells … wtf?” 
 
I seriously didn’t even think to take a portion of what I made Erik and save some of it for the older sibling. Oy.
 
That’s the thing about texting … you never really know if the person is really mad about something or not because unless they text LOL after a statement … they could be irritated. I found myself wanting to defend my actions and texted back, “Well, he asked.” I was wondering if the older sibling felt slighted because his brother got something from me that he didn’t. 
 
Turns out that he wasn’t mad about me giving all the stuffed shells to his younger brother but he did ask me if he could come over and have some of my special baked sweet potato slices for part of his dinner. 
 
I said, “Only if you text Erik to let him know that you got to eat them and he didn’t.”  
 
No matter what the age, that sibling rivalry thing never really goes away. It just gets more subtle.  
 
Stacey Powells is a local writer and radio host. She hosts the Exhausted Parent Network Radio Show every Thursday night at 6 p.m. on KMMT. She can be reached at stacey@exhaustedparent.com. For more of her work, visit www.exhaustedparent.com. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of the Mammoth Times.
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