Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hey, jealousy

This whole turning five thing is rather fraught. E crossed the milestone in January and it's inevitably wrapped up in being the oldest at preschool, in getting ready for kindergarten, in growing up and away from the things she's known forever, and in facing new emotions.

Today her friend A. turned five, and A.'s parents held a celebration at school. E came home and told me all about it. I was jealous, she said. It's a new feeling in her repertoire, and one she's been expressing off and on for the past few weeks.

E and A. have been classmates and buddies since infancy. E is jealous of the way A.'s parents devote their undivided attention to her; A. is jealous that E has siblings. It's a give-and-take fundamental part of their relationship and how they are learning to view the world through the experiences of others. As the preschool begins its first preprations for graduation and they know they're moving closer and closer to their separate kindergartens, it's become more weighty, the constant balancing of similarities and evaluation of differences.

Their lives will soon be far more different than they are similar, but I remind E that A. will always be her friend, even when they don't spend their every day together, coloring side-by-side.

And THEN, E relayed to me with dramatic gesticulation, A.'s birthday celebration continued in a specific way that E's hadn't in January. I was REALLY jealous, then, so I rolled my eyes at that part.

"You did?"

Yeah, because that's what I have to do when I'm so very jealous that being jealous comes out of my body.

We talked about all of the ways her own birthday was fantastic, and all of the ways her birthdays won't be like A.'s. We talked about the "grass is greener" concept, and concluded, in the end, three important things:
  • we should always try to be happy for the good fortune of our friends;
  • but holding in the eye rolling is definitely a tall order for five-year-olds, and can be reserved for after one's sixth birthday;
  • and "the fairy wings are purplier" is a far better way of describing comparative experiences. 
She doesn't have a lot of familiarity with the sensation of jealousy, and she doesn't have a lot of experience with friends moving on and away from her, either. I promised her that it will get easier, and that when she's truly happy for her friends, she won't need to roll her eyes at all.

She didn't really believe me. In fact, she rolled her eyes at me.

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This post is dedicated to a friend who had a really, really good day. And, of course, a very happy birthday to A. You know I think you're adorable -- even though you won't let me play with your hair. Pin It