I'm kind of upset

lovehadleyJuly 30, 2010

I need to vent.

Recently, my DH sold a car to a guy who had lost everything to a failed business and foreclosure. My Dh got him a fab deal on a used car, and the man was really grateful. He offered---FOR FREE---a boys' bedroom set for SS that's only two years old.

Bunkbed, dresser, and desk. It's super nice--solid wood, and just really great. SS will be psyched.

The problem is, my DD is going to be really jealous and I, quite frankly, do not blame her. Unfortunately, we are just NOT in a position to buy her anything like that right now--it's been a tight summer, car sales are down, and I've been unable to do much work b/c of having the kids home. Living separately for two months was a financial strain, as well.


DH is planning on bringing home the new bedroom set this weekend and I'm finding myself feeling bitter and upset. Upset that I can't give the same to DD.

I mean, in my head, I know if the situation had been reversed---if it had been a girl's bedroom set offered to DH, he totally would have taken it, as well. But I like to think--and I DO think this is the case--I would have waited to bring it out until we could find something for SS, as well, even if that meant it was a few months later.

I suggested to DH storing the furniture in our garage or basement until we can find something *relatively equvialent* for DD. I'm NOT talking buying something new in stores---I am a total craigslist/ebay/bargain hunter. I've been watching on craigslist for a couple weeks now, but haven't been able to find anything decent for under $800 and that is just NOT in our budget at the moment, or any time in the next few months. I'm also not dead set on getting a whole new set for her---at this point, I'd settle for a nice new bed, if that's all we could afford.

The thing is--both kids' beds they've had since they transitioned out of cribs, and DD's dresser is one I had when I was a baby.

It's hard b/c our kids are the same age--both 8--so it's not like we can say "oh, well SS is older and this is a special privilege" or anything of the sort. We always try to keep big things equal and this to me seems like a "big" thing.

I guess I will just be honest with DD and say that this stuff for SS was free and it's great for him, kind of sucks for her, but oh well, that's life?

Am I crazy for feeling upset about it, though?

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I'd feel a bit upset too.
I wouldn't want one child to feel excluded or second-best to the other... But at the same time, "fair doesn't always mean equal" is an important thing for kids to understand.

We bought SS a new bed when we redid the bedroom to be a shared room for him and the baby. He got an entire bedroom makeover as a bit of an apology for that he went from an entire room to himself to 50% of a bedroom. It wasn't easily in our finances, but we HAD to get him a new bed (space reasons) and it was important to us to make it fresh for him as a way to show that he's still important, even though the baby is joining us.

How would you feel about this compromise?
SS gets his cool new furniture right away, but the rest of his room stays the same for now.
DD keeps her same furniture for now, but gets new bedding or curtains or wall decals or something like that right away.
In a few months, when you find furniture for DD, then she gets new furniture and SS gets the other part of the update that DD got when he got new furniture. Both kids know that both parts of the room makeover are coming, but that the timeline is uncertain.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 1:24PM
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"How would you feel about this compromise?
SS gets his cool new furniture right away, but the rest of his room stays the same for now.
DD keeps her same furniture for now, but gets new bedding or curtains or wall decals or something like that right away."

Ceph, that is a BRILLIANT idea! I am so glad I posted!

That is exactly what we'll do. Fabulous suggestion, thank you, thank you!

We def. try to apply the "fair isn't always equal" motto to our family life--with two eight year olds, we kind of HAVE to be that way. I don't mind doing that and really, with the piddly "but HE got ice cream after school when I was at Girl Scouts" or "SHE got a new Webkin when I was at my mom's" it is a necessity. But sometimes it feels like BECAUSE SS is only with us half the time, we bend over backwards to make sure HE does not feel shafted. Does that make sense?

IE--he has gotten to do three camp sessions this summer, DD only two. The reason? SS did two sessions of sports/soccer camp--which he loves-- but then was really jealous when he heard about DD's days at her first session of zoo camp (she was signed up for 2). He BEGGED to do a session at zoo camp with her, so we said fine. DH and I love to see him be independant. (Mostly because he has not often been that way, so it's good to see him maturing and branching out. DD has always been super outgoing and that's never been an issue with her.) We are happy SS now wants to do these things...but it IS an example where if it had been DD asking for a third camp session, we probably would have said no, it just wasn't in the budget. Kwim?

Anyway, thanks again for the good idea. Love it!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 1:47PM
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Happy to help, LH!
I'm glad you like my compromise idea :)

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 3:53PM
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love, I understand your feelings. I think you could explain that stuff was free, you didn't buy it and it is clearly boy's stuff, doesn't suit girl's bedroom. I remember that growing up my brother and I never paid attention who got what, fairness and equality. I think parents are more concerned about equality than kids. I don't think kids care that much.

ceph has a great idea, keep us posted if you are going to implement it.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 9:42PM
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The compromise sounds good.

But I think you might be passing up a good teaching moment.

It's hard for kids to see a sibling getting something when they aren't. But that's how life is: sometimes we all get something -- say, Xmas -- and sometimes only one does -- say, a birthday. It's important to learn to be happy for each other when good fortune smiles on one of us, not only envious. It does take practice! It will help if you remind her that some other day, it will be her turn.

DS will be glad someday if she learns to see others' good fortune as about them, not about what she isn't getting.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 12:58AM
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Exactly what I was thinking Gellchom....Younger parents just dont know that equaling up everything is not going to work, (Buy DD a Dora comforter, SS is going to want a Diego comforter, bed it self is meaning less to a young child....generous nature is what you want to teach your children....Agree, be happy for your sibs good fortune, dont worry about equality...Compromise is really not a good idea.......

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 2:07AM
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I think your DD will feel jealous if she gets cues that she should be jealous or if there's been competitiveness in the past. I agree that it's a teaching moment, show her how to be happy for her brother. I don't think it's a bad idea to do something to fix up her room.. but I wouldn't present it as "he got this, so you get that". That teaches kids to expect something whenever the other gets something. I would present it to her as "since you're getting older & are outgrowing this, let's go get you something new." so then it's about her, not about her brother. And when his bed arrives, if you are happy for SS then she is more likely to be happy for SS. There may be some feelings of jealousy, but you have the ability to direct how she expresses it through your words & actions. If you respond to her with "oh honey, I wish we could give you that too", then she will more likely feel slighted or shortchanged.

There are things that are not within your control & are going to make things 'uneven'. She goes to private school, He goes to public. He may go on vacation with his mom, She doesn't even get to see her dad. She gets to live with his dad, He only gets to see his dad on a schedule. and him getting a bedroom set given to him is one of those things you can't control... except to decline it. (or put it on craigslist or ebay & sell it... then use the money to take both kids somewhere fun)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 8:06AM
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All excellent points.

I am not at all saying that things should always be equal and even. Like I said, we DO try to abide by the "fairness isn't everyone getting the same but everyone getting what he/she needs" mentality.

But, and unless you do have two children the same age, this can be hard to understand---there IS a competitiveness between them. I think it is exacerbated by the fact that we are a stepfamily, so there is always that under current of "well, she is favored" or "he is favored." It's also simply because they are the same age so their interests/needs/wants are often quite similar. It would be easier in many ways if one were older. IE--if DD were twelve, for example, I highly doubt she'd care one iota that SS were getting a bunk bed. Her interests would be different and she'd be more concerned about getting this or that. But she is still at that age where she thinks bunk beds are super cool!

As far as big gifts and such--for Christmas and birthdays, we DO match things up equally. They get a variety of different presents BUT if we know it is something they both want--they each get one. IE--each got a Nintendo DS for Christmas two yrs ago, each got a new bike another Christmas, etc. Those are the "big ticket" items that we keep even. There is just no way we could justify saying "oh, that's too bad that Santa brought SS a new bike and not you" or "that's too bad DD got a DS for her birthday but you didn't."

Not only are they both 8 but their birthdays are only six weeks apart!

Now--like Ima pointed out--there are other things not within our control, like DD goes to a private school, SS to public, SS with dad half the time, DD all the time.

(It's funny, Ima, that you stated it like DD "doesn't get" to see her dad; I view it in a positive light, like she is fortunate she has DH as her full time dad, fortunate she has one stable home. I know at some point she will be curious about bio-dad but for now, I see it as a blessing that she doesn't see him.)

I don't know. Some of this is MY own issue, I guess, too. I do feel like we *more often* bend over backwards to make sure that SS doesn't feel slighted and we *more often* take the approach that DD can suck it up. Not all the time, but I feel like it is like is more that way than it is the reverse.

A lot of that IS because DD IS just generally more reselient to that stuff. And THAT is partly her personality, but also partly because I don't think she HAS a sense of being left out the way SS sometimes does--due to his going back and forth.

SS is very jealous by nature, and I think some of it is the divided homes. For example--he WIGGED OUT a couple weeks ago b/c he talked to his mom on the phone, and she mentioned she had taken his 2 yr old sister to the dollar store. He loves the dollar store and he spent a good 30 mins sobbing at our house about how unfair it was. :( When he gets like that, there is just no consoling him, no pointing out all the fun things he does with us---like vacations and camps and circuses and pool trips, etc. He just get so emotional about these things. DH spoke with BM about it at length after that and both agreed it is a problem for SS but neither knows what to do about it. It's one of those sad things---he has two families but he only spends 50% of time with each--and he, as a result, is kind of always left out a bit. On the upside, he gets two of everything. I guess?

Anyway, I guess that is maybe what is irritating ME more than anything. If it were DD getting the new bdrm set, SS would be devastated, no doubt, and DH even agreed with me about that. I think he would be really concerned about how SS would react in that case. BUT b/c we know that DD is pretty laidback about these things, it's like it just doesn't matter and DH isn't concerned.

Kind of like the prodigal son story. Does that make sense?

I am glad I vented this b/c I am now seeing it's really more MY issue and communication with DH than it is about the bedroom set.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 11:38AM
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I am glad I vented this b/c I am now seeing it's really more MY issue and communication with DH than it is about the bedroom set.

Well, of course!
But the bedroom set is an example of the issue, and if you can find a good solution to this particular situation, then that can be a model or a starting point for dealing with other similar situations.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 4:03PM
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I know what you mean about wanting everything to be fair and equal in blended families. In the beginning it was hard for my ds not to be jealous when my skids got gifts in the mail from their grandparents. Their grandparents are always generous and send gifts for every holiday including holidays we don't usually don't give the kids gifts (such as Valentines Day). DS would get upset that when their gifts came and he had nothing. Instead of buying him things I just pointed out that their grandparents lived far away and they liked to send gifts often since they did not get to see eachother. Then I pointed out to DS that his grandparents live within driving distance and he sees them all often.

DS is the only grandchild and nephew in my ex's family. My ex has quite a few siblings, but he is the only one to have a child. So my ds gets spoiled by them. Everytime one of them goes on a vacation they bring back a gift for ds and/or send him postcards. Skids got jealous at first, but we pointed out that their grandparents often send them things when ds gets nothing.

I think that it is better to point out that sometimes things just work out differently than to try to buy evenness.(is that even a word? lol) I would think it could get quite expensive trying to always make things fair.

If it were me I would just explain to dd (if she even gets upset) that someone gave the bedroom set to dh and it is for a boy. Then I would ask her if she wanted to help you and dh set up ss's bedroom when he was not there and surprise him with it. Then she might be excited for him instead of jealous.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 12:20AM
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I'd stay away from the "it's for a boy" tactic. What if she says, "Why?" What could you say that wouldn't be telling her she is only allowed to like what societal prejudice says she can like? She might well say, "But I like trucks, too!" And she'd be right.

I understand that the circumstances make it harder to go with the teaching opportunity approach. But as others pointed out, trying to keep things equal all the time is a losing battle anyway. She will be much happier in the long run if she learns not to see others' good fortune only in terms of herself.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 2:39AM
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When I was with exBF, when we got together my kids were 1, 2, 4. His kids were 1, 4, 6. We had two sets of same age kids (the 1's were girls, the 4's were boys) & I understand how that makes things hard. (and I know about the birthdays being close, we had 1 in May, 1 in June & 2 in July... and I always made them each a party! Looking back, I don't know how I coped except maybe I just didn't think about it...lol) We also tried to keep big ticket items even... for 6 kids, it sure wasn't easy.

But what I meant when I said your DD doesn't get to see her dad... she is living in more of a nuclear family, which can be better for her. But, with it also comes only ONE birthday party, ONE Christmas morning & she only gets to go on vacation if you guys take her. SS gets to do things with his mom that your DD doesn't get to do. and you're right, the going back and forth is hard on him...

On a side note: My oldest son thought the world revolved around him... not just when he was a baby, like all babies. When he was 3-5, I couldn't take him to birthday parties. They would play musical chairs & if he wasn't the winner, down on the floor ~kicking & screaming~ because he didn't win. When they sang 'Happy Birthday', he was fine until they got to the name of the birthday kid... down on the floor ~kicking & screaming~ because it wasn't him. It was even worse when the birthday kid opened presents. That was my son's personality & there was nothing I could do about it. I tried talking to him but nothing changed it... he wanted to be the center of attention. He's now 23 & he still wants everyone in the room to stop what they are doing & focus on him when he arrives at a family gathering. He's the ONLY person I know that needs to make an entrance! So, maybe your SS has that sort of personality and nobody can do anything to change it. I get that it's irritating. I hated not always being able to stay at a party the whole time... and having to drag away five other kids that were enjoying themselves because my son was inconsolable. He outgrew the tantrums around 9 or 10... and what made things worse for my son is that he always looked older than he was. When he was 2, he looked 4 and when he was 6, he looked 10. Imagine seeing a kid that looked that old, throwing a baby tantrum in a store... oh the looks I got!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 9:11AM
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"DS will be glad someday if she learns to see others' good fortune as about them, not about what she isn't getting."

This is such a good point!!!!! Although I think it was supposed to be DD instead of DS, but that's neither here nor there.

I think this is a much bigger and broader problem with society in general...everyone gets the same stuff and can't be happy for other people's good fortune. It's the same reason we've taken the competition and skill out of sports so that everyone gets to play and everyone gets a trophy. I have a friend that, when she got engaged, called to tell me and said "I am sorry to tell you this, but he proposed." I was like "Are you kidding?? That's great news! You don't have to be sorry! I'm so happy for you!" She said "Well I just thought you'd be upset." I was seriously more hurt that she thought that I wouldn't be able to be happy for her. The only reason she would've thought that was because that's how SHE would've reacted had I had the same news for her.

I definitely think the fact that SS bedroom set was FREE is a HUMONGOUS point and, at some point, your DD needs to be able to value that. She needs to understand that the reason she can't get her new set right now is because it is NOT FREE. KWIM?

Part of the competitiveness of your SS and the resilience of your DD is that they are of separate genders. Boys are naturally more competitive. That's just how it is. When DS was 8, which BTW is a MAJOR change in a boys life, he wanted to 'race' everywhere....from the house to the car, from the car to the store, around the grocery store, etc. It was so annoying because I just wanted to walk! LOL! Now, he (and all the other boys on his baseball team)compete with eachother. We've been trying to teach him that he plays TEAM sports. That means that when one person does well, they all do, and when one person does bad, they all do. So they need to encourage eachother by saying things like "Oh you were so close" instead of saying things like "Oh you suck" or whatever.

You are such a good mom and a great SM! You will figure this out and do the right thing. Just make sure you don't miss a prime opportunity for teaching them that they are a team, and need to support eachother and not compete.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 11:23AM
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So what did you end up doing?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 11:15AM
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