Sibling Present Rivalry

My kids don’t fight (that) much, but throw a present in the mix, and it’s WAR! This Christmas, do we give them the same thing (waste of money), nothing (yeah, right!) – or a lesson in sharing (ho ho ho)?
He’s Got More Green Ones Than Me!
Whatever my sons are given, their brother’s present is better. Tears, shouting, grabbing, throwing and, sometimes, ruination of the new toy and any goodwill that was wrapped up with it ensue. You could do a blind test and the next day give them the same two presents (having wiped their memories Men in Black style), but the other way round, and they will still want whatever the other one got. It’s maddening! It’s stopping me shopping for their Christmas presents! And there is nothing worse you can do to a woman than stop her shopping.
It’s not just gifts either. On a small scale, this rivalry is constant. I know this has been the sibling story since Cain and Abel, but seriously – if I buy them each a packet of Fruit Pastilles and one has more green ones than the other, there are tantrums. If they get a balloon at the end of a party, one will cry because he didn’t get the blue one. Or if he got the blue one, he wanted the red one. Which his brother got.
Christmas Conundrum
This sibling present rivalry is at its worst at Christmas, with its simultaneous gift-giving. It’s so shameful and ungrateful, and – worst of all – makes me look like a bad mother. To try and forestall the terribleness, I came up with some options:
Get them something similar. This is what we often do, but somehow it makes it worse. Give them Thomas, and they wanted Percy. Give them Toy Story 2 and they wanted Toy Story 3. I kind of see what they’re saying – it’s like if my sister and I were each given a beautiful 100% cashmere jumper, and hers was a beautiful soft grey and mine was snot green, I’d be pretty riled. But it’s so annoying of my boys.
Get them the same thing. Great short term, but a terrible waste of money. And what if they both don’t like it? I would only capitulate and replicate a present if there were longstanding proof of desire. Such was the case with Annie and Clarabel. Both the boys had a Thomas (although they argued over which one got the one with “awake eyes”, the other one’s eyes having rubbed off with constant play) but we only had one set of carriages. And no, it didn’t work to give one Annie and one Clarabel. After over a year of squabbling, I gave in. It worked. Until the old A & C’s eyes began to wear off…
Get them something to share – hahahaha. Only someone without young children would suggest this. Yes, they always end up sharing things after the first couple of “my precious” days have passed, but the row over who gets to unwrap it would blow up Christmas Day.
Get them nothing. Hmmm. Tempting, sometimes, but ultimately – they’re my baaaaabies!
Peace and Goodwill To All Brothers
Finally, we hit upon a solution – whether it is great or not I’ll let you know on Christmas Day: giving them two presents to share. See what we did there? They each get to unwrap one, but neither can claim supreme ownership. Maybe I’m deluded to be ‘Dreaming of a Polite Christmas’, but maybe, just maybe, the Christmas spirit will see them happily playing together while we tuck into the, er, Christmas spirits.


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