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Choosing Between Them

Thursday Big Girl had a spelling bee. She was one of three kids chosen to represent her class in a school-wide event. It was bad timing, though since Little Girl’s Tuesday/Thursday preschool moving up ceremony was at the same time. My husband (who works from home Thursdays) and I were forced to make a decision: Did we divide and conquer or go to one event? It’s not the only tough decision we faced this week. Friday, we had another quandary. Little Girl had her Montessori moving up ceremony. It was scheduled to start at the same time Big Girl’s annual end-of-year picnic in the park. Again, we needed to make a choice, except that this time it was all mine since my husband had to go to work: Which kid’s event would I attend?

In the end we went to the spelling bee together on Thursday and brought Big Girl with us (my husband went to work a little late) to the Friday Montessori event. Big Girl got to her event — albeit two hours late. It wasn’t an easy decision, and in the moment I felt guilty about both outcomes. (Not as guilty as I felt for completely forgetting that Little Girl’s school picnic was last week, but that’s a different story — and a different post.)

As I watched my Big Girl spell ‘restaurant,’ I felt bad that Little Girl wasn’t donning a cap and gown inĀ  celebration of her first year of preschool. The next day, as the kids filed into the graduation ceremony I felt twinges of guilt that Big Girl wasn’t at the park participating in her school’s color wars, especially since I went crazy finding a red top for her to wear during the games.

That is until a little while ago when I remembered that while she didn’t wear a cap and gown on Thursday, Little Girl did get to watch her sister standing on stage, nervous and proud at the same time. She got to see what can be achieved with hard work and determination. Big Girl, on the other hand, may have missed a tug-of-war, but she got more proof of how much her sister really loves her. You see, when the Montessori class walked in wearing two necklaces that said, ‘Class of 2012,’ Little Girl, seeing Big Girl, ran over, hugged her, and — taking one of her necklaces off — put a necklace around her big sister’s head. In the end, I gave both girls a gift with my choices.

Indeed, when we made our decisions, we hoped that both girls would understand. They did. There were no tears. Both girls made the best of things. Little Girl probably didn’t understand what she was missing (although she has chided me several times since the missed picnic in the park). Big Girl was happy to spend a few hours at her picnic, leaving the place wet and tired and hungry. I don’t know if it’s because we didn’t make a big deal about it, or if they both know how much we love them. Either way, it was a very big weight off my shoulders to see that, by choosing one thing over the other and not trying to race around and do everything, we could make both girls happy. It’s a lesson I will be taking with me as the girls get older and, I’m sure, have more competing events.

How do you deal with handling the needs of more than one child? Would you have made a similar choice? I’d like to know.

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