It’s taken over seven months, but yesterday my daughter got jealous of her baby cousin all of a sudden. I have never seen her so sad and it broke my heart. Of the three of them, she was always the most likely to become jealous. She was the only girl and had been the youngest (and therefore cutest) in the family for nearly seven years. And then this beautiful baby came into our lives.
All three of my kids adore their baby cousin. I’ve been so impressed with how kind and gentle they are to her – and how much pleasure they take in making her laugh. In turn she adores them and her face lights up at the sight of them. It is a delight to see.
I see her a couple of times a week and the kids see her even more than that – when they are in Grandma world She is a real part of our family.
I must admit I’ve been amazed by how much I love my niece too. I’ve never had a niece or nephew of my own – and we rarely see our two nephews on my husband’s side. I never realised you could love another child almost as much as you love your own. But she is my flesh and blood. And she’s gorgeous and funny and adorable. She is becoming such a character.
My niece was eating with us for the first time and loving her food. My daughter, as ever, was eating extremely slowly and getting distracted. My eldest, renowned for upsetting my daughter, announced a race between them to finish their meals. The boys, my sister and brother-in-law and my parents all cheered on my niece. My daughter finished her food after her cousin. My eldest taunted her: ‘beaten by a baby!’. And she ran off. I got her to come back inside with the promise of pudding But the damage had been done. She was so angry with my son that she refused to be in the same room as him. It was only when I was holding my niece and saw my daughter slink away with silent tears running down her face that it dawned on me what was really going on.
It wasn’t just about who ate their tea fastest. It wasn’t just about my son teasing her. It was about how everyone and everything was focused on my niece. As my niece had smiled and waved her way through tea, we had all lapped it up. Then everyone had cheered for my niece in an entirely pointless race that should never have been a race.
My daughter ran off and hid and I sat with her as she cried her little heart out. There was no shouting or screaming, no chucking stuff around. She hardly spoke a word, just cried her silent little tears.
To his credit, my eldest came and apologised to her. I thanked him and told him not to worry as that wasn’t the only reason she was upset. He was upset to see her in such a bad way and kept asking her what was wrong. I didn’t tell him because I didn’t want him to get angry with her and tell her she was spoilt. He worked it out later in the day and I’m pleased to say was kind and understanding to her about it – and he didn’t tell his younger brother why she was so upset.
I took my girl home and sat her in front of the telly with Teddy which is usually a fail-safe way of cheering her up, but the tears kept coming. In the end she cried for nearly three hours – never once shouting, screaming or having a tantrum.
She feels Grandma and Grandpa don’t love her as much now they’ve got a new granddaughter. I told her this isn’t true, but while she is still Best Girl in the World to Daddy and me, she is now Equal Best Girl in the World to Grandma and Grandpa. And she’s slipped from Best Girl in the World to Second Best Girl in the World to her auntie and uncle. The boys have always shared the position of Best Boy in the World with each other and they’re fine with that. They come as a unit anyway. And they haven’t slipped down anyone’s rankings.
I’m hoping that yesterday was a one-off. I’m hoping that she’s got it out of her system. She loves her cousin and I don’t want jealousy to change that. I think she needs a little bit of attention and reassurance from Grandma and Grandpa. She’s not a spoilt little girl, but she is a little girl who has been used to a fairly privileged position within the family and that has shifted slightly.
Is jealousy of cousins normal? Having never had them in the equation this is entirely new to me. And how best to deal with it to keep everyone happy?