Competition Among the Kids


Whether your kids are blood relations or step-siblings, jealousy and competition are a reality.

This is the face of a girl who has had quite enough. It was 95 degrees out, which is a significant improvement over the 101 degrees she endured for hours leading up to this point. Halle was having a great deal of fun with her siblings and some other kids…until she wasn’t. I can imagine her thoughts.

I made a new friend at the waterski tournament today, a girl named Rachel. Me and Cali were playing with her, tag, hide-n-seek, some other games that we invented, and then suddenly Cali and Rachel climbed up the bleachers to a level that seemed too high and too scary for me. I had the impression they were trying to get away from me. Actually, the evidence is stacking up, because when I was running through the grass with them earlier, they got way ahead of me. I tried so hard to catch up, but I just couldn’t. This stinks. I’m going to tell mommy.

It’s tough being the youngest. Even though Halle and Cali are only five months apart, that’s five months of major development separating them, plus the genetic differences that make Cali a gorgeous star athlete and Halle a show-stopping actor.

Todd at the tourney.

The lovely Rachel in question is a vivacious 4-year-old blond from the Midwest whose father, like Cali’s, was skiing in the Big Dawg tournament in West Palm Beach last week. Her birthday was March 21st, just three days earlier than Cali’s March 24th. Those two were perfectly paired, and while at first Halle believed they were a happy threesome, the reality ultimately set in. She was the odd one out.

What stunned me was how Halle handled it. When she was done having a little fit, I told her I believed she could climb to the highest bleacher. She ran away to test my theory and came back to report the good news a few minutes later. Then she asked for money. For the first time ever. “Mommy, can I have two dollars? I want to buy some chips.”

I stood up to walk to the snack vendor with her, but she put her hands out to stop me. “No, I want to get it myself.”

That’s cool. Her first purchase. I’ll remember this forever. I told her that if she took my $5 bill, she should come back with three single dollar bills. Instead, she came back with one dollar, two bags of chips, and Cali.

She had bribed Cali down from the bleachers with a bag of chips. The message was, Imight not be able to keep up with you, but I am the keeper of the snacks. Hungry? Follow me!

When there is a new friend, a new opportunity or a new toy, competition strikes up between the little girls.

And then there are the stretches of time where the two of them play without a cross word, and everything is right in the world. Our morning at the beach that same day had been like that. They splashed at the edge of the water, swam, dug, built, ran and guzzled bottled water like there was no tomorrow. They collected a mountain of shells that we did bring home and which now decorate the back of Todd’s truck and the floor of the garage. Eventually I will clean that, but not today.

Right before we left the beach (Palm Beach at the end of Royal Palm Way, where the ocean is pale turquoise and so clear you can see forever underwater, Cali found a piece of amber sea glass. I told her it was lucky and to save it. This did not escape Halle’s ears, even though she was ten yards away. Apparently, at Palm Beach you can see far under water and hear far above water. Like magic.

Halle flitted past us waving the lone hand shovel, taunting Cali and mocking her lucky glass. Cali pounced on the shovel and tore it from Halle’s hand. The sea glass went flying and we couldn’t find it. It was officially time to leave.