My sister-in-law has children roughly the same ages as mine. This was fun for a little while, but lately I feel like I’ve been unwillingly entered into a subtle competition over whose daughter is smarter, who gets invited to more birthday parties, and who is more musically gifted. Not only is the constant bragging getting annoying (my sister-in-law obviously thinks her daughter is superior to mine) but I’m starting to feel jealous and competitive when I actually don’t care that much. How am I going to deal with her for the rest of my life?
I am going to start a national campaign against using the word “gifted” to descibe anyone who isn’t David Ortiz or that blind five-year-old from South Korea who can play any song on the piano after she’s heard it one time.
Your sister-in-law feels insecure about her parenting. For her, tangible proof of good mothering comes in the form of hard-core ballet lessons, birthday party supremacy, and those flash cards on TV that teach babies to read before they can eat solid food. If she has your daughter as a benchmark, all she has to do to make herself feel good is do more than you’re doing.
As the parent of a kid who regularly lies on his stomach eating mulch off the playground without even using his hands, I feel your pain. At the end of the school year, kids in the Montessori school were constructing the Taj Mahal out of toothpicks while mine was shoving beads up his nose. And it’s okay with me. Truly. He’s a great kid. So when your sister-in-law starts yapping about how Little Ashley won the Good Citizen Trophy at summer camp for saving a 16-year-old from drowning, just take a deep breath, remember that it has nothing to do with your daughter at all, and be proud that you have such an awesome niece.