I don't know why I didn't think to post this story before now. It actually happened earlier this week, and it's pretty funny. But somehow it just never made it here. Still, I think it is blog-worthy. :)
I don't remember when the tradition started (that's how far back it goes), but every year for Christmas my dad buys me a stuffed animal. I have amassed quite the collection. We are great lovers of tradition and can't quite give up the practice, even though 31 might be considered by some too old to be getting stuffed animals for Christmas.
When Sarah came along, she benefited from this ritual, receiving a few stuffed animals of her own. Dad did something a little different this year. He bought a teddy bear, and he wrote 3 names on the gift tag: mine, Sarah's and Natalie's (our name for the baby). We brought the bear home.
Sarah has been asking about this bear ever since. The conversation has always gone very much the same. "The tag says Mommy and Sarah and Natalie?" she'll ask.
"Yes," I answer. "It's for the three of us to share." Sarah always seems troubled by this, but she never took the issue any further than that. I didn't push. I honestly thought that perhaps she was already feeling the sting of sibling rivalry and was disturbed over sharing a bear with Natalie. I wasn't going to make a big deal of it at this point. So each time she ended the conversation, I did as well.
Silly me. I had it all wrong.
Since it has been almost a month since Christmas, we have obviously been going over this same ground for awhile now. But on Tuesday, it finally all came out. Sarah looked at the bear and asked the normal question. I gave the usual response. But this time, Sarah continued to study the bear, then abruptly asked me for a marker. "A marker?" I asked in surprise. "What do you want a marker for?"
"I need to write Daddy's name on the tag!" she cried. "So he can share too!"
Oh, my. All this time, the thing that bothered her about that bear was that her daddy had been excluded! She didn't like his being left out!
I gave her a marker. Since we've been practicing letters, she carefully wrote a D on the tag (some other marks as well--we haven't progressed to words yet). And now she is perfectly fine with the bear, because it is for all of us, not just three of us. :) She is actually quite proud of herself for sharing with Daddy as well.
And for all of my child psychology classes, I am apparently clueless. I never would have guessed what the real issue was. ;)