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The Red Dress Club: Green-Eyed

Friday, 6 May 2011

Photo courtesy of Fotolia

With all of her attendants looking on, the bride is handing her bouquet to a winsome, four-year-old flower girl. She is the focal point of the picture.

I’m there too. I am the scowling one on the left.

I despised you that day. Once again, you managed to monopolize our aunt’s attention. This time, it was because you were so very sad. Your tears, streaming down your snow-white cheeks, were impossible to ignore. And the cause of such compelling sadness? You were cold. You had to go to the bathroom. You had unceremoniously dumped all of your rose petals at the head of the runner and was, therefore, unable to toss them as we had been instructed. And because you were an emotional, sniveling twit. In all of my six years, I had never met anyone whose command of the tear was as expertly wielded as yours. And for your pouting, you were rewarded with Tante B’s bouquet. And a picture to prove your exalted place in her heart.

Tante B liked you best. She always did. An impromptu photoshoot, taken by PapaBear (circa. 1975), definitively captured the unabashed favouritism. As if the two of you were completely unaware of the presence of an interloper. I struggled to understand. Was it because of some point of commonality? The Middle-Child Syndrome, perhaps?

When our youngest brother was born, do you remember how MamaBear, z”l, took us aside and explained how difficult it would be for JockBro to go from being the baby of the family to #3 out of 4? Well, Tante B also had some thoughts for me; that it would be difficult for you to surrender your role as the middle child. What about me? Why didn’t anyone see how difficult it was for me? I kept asking for an older brother, but did MomGiraffe ever come through? At the very least, I should have gotten the pony I’d wanted.

You had beautiful brown locks; I had unruly, dirty-blonde hair.
Your round, shiny eyes were forest green; my squinty, deep-set eyes were some undefinable hybrid of shades.
You were the smart, interesting one; Me? I could sing.

So I retaliated in the way that only an older sister could; I said you were adopted. You believed me. That wasn’t all. I stole pocket money from your tin bank. The one that was identical to mine, remember? I overfed your fish so that it would suicide. I stole your friends. And cast you as the characters I didn’t want to play in our girlhood games.

When I think back to how awful I was, I am ashamed. Especially since you were always generous with your love. You bailed me out of countless situations, guarded my deepest secrets, supported my wildest dreams. I grew to understand how you could be the favourite.

And now, I marvel at God’s sense of humour. He has given me a daughter. With dark, burnished hair. And your green eyes.

Red Writing Hood is a writing meme. This essay was written to a prompt about jealousy. In all of ugliness and in 600 words or fewer. I consider myself a person who isn’t jealous. This week, I learned I was wrong. As always, constructive criticism is appreciated.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. Friday, 6 May 2011 9:49 am

    This is so telling, so true. Those sibling jealousies. I see it with my own daughters. My eldest already saying “everyone loves Esther best.”

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 9 May 2011 8:18 pm

      I once gave a sermon showing how each one of the kids in my family could make the claim that he or she is the favourite. It really is all about perspective, isn’t it??

      (PS — I love the name “Esther!”)

  2. Friday, 6 May 2011 9:50 am

    I can feel your jealousy! You wrote with power! I love this:

    And now, I marvel at God’s sense of humour. He has given me a daughter. With dark, burnised hair. And your green eyes.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 9 May 2011 8:20 pm

      Thanks, Amy. Jealousy is a very. powerful. emotion.

  3. Friday, 6 May 2011 10:21 am

    I absolutely loved this! And I laughed at the part where you told her she was adopted. I think all of the oldest children of the world to that…I know I did. This was really great!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 9 May 2011 8:20 pm

      Whew — so relieved to discover that I wasn’t the only one.

      Thanks for stopping by, Ashley.

  4. Friday, 6 May 2011 11:28 am

    One has to love God’s sense of humor. 😉 Great piece.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 9 May 2011 8:21 pm

      Amanda — on a very regular basis, I am bemused by God’s sense of humour. Thanks!

  5. Friday, 6 May 2011 11:41 am

    This is so realistic. I have to wonder if my own girls will experience similar issues in the future.

    I really liked this

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 9 May 2011 8:46 pm

      Can’t say for sure, but I imagine that your girls will have some friction at some point.

      I can happily state that my sister and I moved past this and are very close. But it took time. Distance helped too 🙂

  6. Friday, 6 May 2011 2:04 pm

    Oh, siblings.. I was born on my sister’s 6th birthday. She was not particularly happy about that gift, or her mother being at the hospital on her birthday! My sister made me pay, that’s for sure!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 9 May 2011 8:52 pm

      Are you kidding me? How awful for your sister!!! I know a few other families with this same situation. A rather difficult beginning for the relationship/

  7. Friday, 6 May 2011 6:52 pm

    I think that this sentence is incredibly powerful, as it conveys the sense of jealousy that a six year old is experiencing from the benefit of hindsight:

    “In all of my six years, I had never met anyone whose command of the tear was as expertly wielded as yours.”

    And I completely understand that jealousy–I was the same with my brother, and it was just the two of us!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 9 May 2011 8:55 pm

      Oh Tina, I haven’t even gotten to my brothers yet!

      Thanks for the comment.

  8. Friday, 6 May 2011 8:00 pm

    Beautiful as always!

    I find myself wondering how to pronounce “MamaBear, z”l,” though!
    I actually googled the word “burnised” because it was so close to “burnished” and I wondered if that was what you meant, but “burnised” does show up in many descriptions, even though MS Word doesn’t like it and tries to correct it! Is “burnised” a colloquial term?

    And has your little sister seen this post yet lol?

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 9 May 2011 8:59 pm


      Z”L is an acronym for “zichrona livracha” – may her memory be for a blessing. It lets the read know that the individual is no longer living.

      And burnised is a type not a colloquial term 🙂

      My sister read this today and her comments are below.

  9. the writ and the wrote permalink
    Saturday, 7 May 2011 8:50 am

    I can relate to the sibling rivalry. It is amazing to me, even though I am nearly 29 and my brother is nearly 25, that we are incapable of getting along. Even living in the same house does not help our cause.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 9 May 2011 9:03 pm

      I bet that living in the same house harms the cause.

      And I’m 40 😉

  10. Sunday, 8 May 2011 4:38 pm

    I definitely resented my younger brothers at times, but always longed for a sister. I’m sure if I’d been blessed with one we’d have fought just as much as I did with my brothers. But this made me think of some really crappy things I did to them when I was little—oy! Really enjoyed this!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 9 May 2011 9:04 pm

      Glad my sister’s misery was able to provide some enjoyment 😉

      As far as younger brothers go, I’ve got a few of those as well.

  11. Sunday, 8 May 2011 11:06 pm

    Younger siblings can be ever so much fun….I wanted a brother so badly but never did get one…

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 9 May 2011 9:05 pm

      At least there was a modicum of hope of getting a specific younger sibling. I, on the other hand, was never very good at math.

      Or biology, for that matter.

  12. Monday, 9 May 2011 7:59 am

    First, I was just a cry baby. Literally could not help it. Second, I want my money back. Three, I also wanted an older brother OR a younger sister. We were both failed. Four, it is rare that pretty blue eyed-blond haired girls are jealous of brown haired girls. Although my eyes do rock. You, apparently, do not remember when our swimming teacher said that you could be a model and that I looked interesting.

    Is that true about the fish? That actually makes me feel a lot better.

    Confidential to Writ and Wrote, I get along tons better with all my siblings specifically because we do not live in the same house. Or state.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 9 May 2011 9:09 pm

      So glad that you recognized what a damn cry baby you were. It was really so aggravating. You seem to have mostly grown out of that…

      As for the money, I could write you a check, but I have not a clue how much I owe you. Sorry about that.

      We really were failed, weren’t we?

      I wanted to be like Rebecca the Jewess (of Ivanhoe fame) and that required a smouldering, ethnic look. You, apparently, don’t remember that our swimming teacher was nuts. Furthermore, as PC pointed out, you were one of the most beautiful little girls he’d ever seen.

      As far as the fish goes, I made yours suicide the following year by “encouraging” it to take up jumping.

      So who’s excited to see what happens when we are living 90 minutes apart?!?


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