To each his own


Saturday is Baby Mac's first birthday party. You know, the party I won't be going to. Well, yesterday I mailed the birthday gift from PawDad and me to our youngest grandson. Megan called while I was preparing the package for mailing, and I felt compelled to tell her that I was not including something for Bubby in the box.

I realized it was an issue we'd not yet addressed, the even-steven-if-one-gets-something-the-other-gets-something-too conversation, because Bubby had been the one and only child up until his little brother came along nearly a year ago.

"The package is only for Baby Mac," I said. "It's his birthday, not Bubby's, and I won't be including a small gift for Bubby just because Baby Mac gets something."

"That's fine, Mom," she assured me. "That's not how our family rolls."

I was glad to hear that, as that's not the way our family ever rolled, either, when my daughters—Megan included—were young. As is often the case when a young family and new parents (like Megan and Preston) figure out what traditions and practices they will and will not use from their childhood when raising their own kids, I didn't want to assume Megan would do as we did, not as Preston's family did.

I don't know that Preston's family followed the even-steven-amongst-siblings rule. I'm guessing they didn't. But Megan and Preston may have a different philosophy than either of their families of origin, and I thought it important to let Megan know this grandma still doesn't roll that way and doesn't plan on reversing her rolling motion, regardless.

Baby Mac's birthday will be the first occasion that he receives gifts and Bubby doesn't—unlike Christmas and Valentine's Day and Easter. As Megan says, the event "will be interesting" as Bubby gets an important lesson in not being center stage, not being the primary recipient of all the spoils.

Though some might think it harsh, I wasn't willing to give Bubby any spoils on Baby Mac's birthday. Hence the sole gift in the package to the desert family being just for Baby Mac.

Bubby is usually an empathetic little boy, and Baby Mac's party will be his opportunity to realize that empathy includes not only when you feel bad for another, but when you feel good for them, too. Just as I wanted my daughters to empathize with others—especially their sisters—during good times and bad, I want my grandson to learn the same. I want him to be happy for others when good fortune comes their way, to delight in good things happening to those he loves, even when it's something he would oh-so-much love to happen to himself, too.

Jealousy, bitterness, envy, schadenfreude are all such easily learned feelings, attitudes, behaviors. They come naturally, it seems. No one has to teach little boys and girls such concepts, they just simply happen—even if those boys and girls don't know how to define them, what word to attach to them (or how to spell those words, such as schadenfreude, which I still have to look up).

The opposite of such things, though, seemingly must be taught, require lessons. Things such as compassion, goodwill, and sincere delight in another's good fortune.

Sometimes those lessons are learned the hard way.

Sometimes those lessons are learned the easy way—at least incrementally.

And sometimes those lessons are learned by not receiving a gift from Gramma or anyone else when your brother gets one.

It's a new lesson for Bubby, one I hope he accepts, appreciates, and takes to heart without making things too "interesting" for Megan.

I have faith in Bubby and expect it to not be too difficult a lesson for him. Because at his core, Bubby is a kind-hearted kiddo who usually does consider the feelings of others and willingly takes a backseat when necessary.

And because his birthday is just a couple weeks after Baby Mac's. He'll surely take comfort in knowing that Baby Mac will soon get that very same lesson—and at a far younger age than Bubby did.

Today's question:

Was the even-steven-amongst-siblings rule practiced in your family when you were young? What about with your own children? With your grandchildren?