Our church hosts a Daddy-daughter Valentine’s Day dance for girls ages 5 and up. That meant that this year, E (age 5) was able to attend with her dad. So fun…
Unless you’re S, who (turning 4 less than a week after the dance) was both too young to attend and too little to grasp the concept of “be happy for your sister; your time will come”.
So with a goal of “let’s create a special event for both girls and encourage them to celebrate each other’s good fortune” – my husband and I came up with the following plan:
(1) Thursday night: Dad would take S to a Valentine’s event at a local kids’ museum.
(2) Friday night: Dad would take E to the church Valentine’s dance
Two great events, positioned back-to-back… a perfect way to celebrate each girl in a way that would be unique and fun.
To perfect the plan, we used info from friends who had attended the events in previous years to make the nights match as much as we could in terms of tangible experience. For example, since E was getting a rose from the church on her date night, I took S to a flower shop and let her pick out any one flower she wanted for her date with dad. As it turns out, the woman who ran the flower shop so appreciated what we were trying to do that she gave S a whole little bunch of lavender flowers for her special date. And the man at the ice cream store next door caught wind of it and gave everyone with us a free miniature cone.
Have I set the stage completely enough? Is everyone ready for the disaster to unfold?
On Thursday night, S – who loves her dates with dad more than anything in the world – cried at the ice cream shop because she wanted mom to come on the date too.
Mom explained that she could come too, but that she couldn’t leave E & T, so it would be a whole family event. That was fine with S. In fact, she was thrilled.
I was suspicious, because I know S is smart. She is usually about 10 steps ahead of me in the emotional game. But I am learning, so on this occasion, I recognized what was coming, and made sure to carefully explain that while it was fine for the whole family to go to the museum if that was what S really wanted, that would not mean the whole family was going to the church dance the next night. The invitation had only been for kids 5 and older; it was not up to us.
S said she understood.
The whole family had a wonderful time at the museum (although mom had only packed dinner for S since everyone else was supposed to be traveling home, which meant we all had museum-served yogurt-covered pretzels for dinner. Oh well.)
The next night was dad’s date with E.
As anticipated, the wonderful S (who is really still so very little…) cried when dad left for the dance with E and reminded all of us that she had included everyone on her special evening. Mom decided to cushion the blow by offering dinner in a bowl with popcorn and a movie. (And may I say, “whatever” with regards to the rapid decline in my mealtime offerings that week. I decided in that moment that the whole concept of good nutritional choices on any days near a holiday – including Valentine’s Day – is overrated and bunk.)
While at the dance Friday, E sweetly (unprompted by any adults) put the director of the event on the spot by asking if she could take home an extra rose for her sister.
(I hope the sensitivity and niceness of my children is coming through here…S making every effort to be all-inclusive; E doing everything in her 5 year old power to include S in the fun.)
The director of the event (who is God’s gift to children and families, in my honest opinion…I just love her…) commended E on her thoughtful nature and selected the two most beautiful roses – and I mean absolutely equally gorgeous – one for E to keep and one to surprise S with at home.
But here’s what those equally gorgeous roses looked like after a few days.
Can you tell from the image that one rose is blooming beautifully and one is totally dark and shriveled? Fortunately, neither girl is focused on which rose is whose. (Thank goodness I put all the flowers in the same vase without even thinking.)
But seriously, what are the chances?
We did everything we could – not to treat the girls the same… but to make them both feel as loved as possible in unique ways.
My final attempt at conveying a positive message to the girls is posting this story so that if someday, they ever feel like someone is being favored, they can see how – from the very beginning (I mean they are too young to even remember these events!) – we were working very hard to celebrate them individually, in different ways but with equal vigor!
Even when the roses fail us, we will never give up on that effort!
(I may give up on the roses, though. Can I ask again… what are the chances of that after everything that was done?!)
Love you, S. Love you, E. (Both of you, so much.)
(And T, so you will know you are equally loved and were not forgotten in this post, I will reveal that you enjoyed the yogurt-covered pretzels and popcorn more than anyone, and were the only member of the family who rolled through the whole week wondering what on earth all the fuss was about. Ah, the joys of being one!)