And the excruciating struggle to find balance continues.
I knew that there would be trouble, positioning the focus too deliberately on one always incites anger and tears. We had been trying to make sure that, as we nursed Avery back to health, Briar understood that she had not been responsible for Avery’s injury. Unfortunately, once we realized Briar carried no guilt we underestimated her capacity for envy. We we were getting by until the present.
It was bedtime, the girls were waiting upstairs while Sean and I gathered up the necessary bedtime accoutrements, when the doorbell rang. It was a client of Sean’s.
“Heard what happened to little Ave and just wanted to bring something by.”
After thanking him we carried the gaily wrapped bag upstairs.
“Ave, look, Kevin brought you a present!” Briar leapt from her bed and ran to Avery’s bedside. “Can we open it? Can we look inside? Is it for us? Let’s see what’s for me?”
Avery blinked slowly, not overly excited about the gift, as we pulled the plush monkey from the bag we explained to Briar that it was a gift to say sorry for all the things that Avery couldn’t do.
“But I want one,” she pouted.
“I know honey, but the thing is there are so many things you can do that Avery can’t,” I explained as her lower lip trembled.
“You can run and swing and go and play at Jen’s house, Avery has to rest until her leg is healed,” I spoke softly, trying to be gentle, sensitive to Briar’s hurt. Eventually we left the room, Sean to go back into work and me to get Fin down for the night.
About forty minutes later the sound of soft sobbing floated down the stairs. I carried Fin up and into the girls’ room. Avery was awake, but still. Briar was in bed with the covers pulled up to her eyes as she cried.
“What is it?” I asked her.
She looked at me and said something in a very soft voice.
“I can’t hear you, babe, what is it?”
Again, she spoke from beneath the fleece princess blanket in a whisper.
“Briar, I cannot hear you,” Fin was starting to fuss in my arms.
Briar stared back at me and said another impossible to hear sentence. Fin thrashed and squealed and I snapped.
“Briar! I cannot hear you, just say it!” My tone was harsh.
She sat straight up in bed, slamming the blanket down on her bed and with her body tense as could be, she turned her head sharply my way and shouted, “But I didn’t get a present!” As soon as the words were out her shoulders slumped and she began to sob.
My heart broke. Of course she was hurt, exhausted by the attention given to Avery. I t wasn’t that she was unsympathetic, acting throughout the day like a sort of handmaiden for Avery, bringing her juice, toys, blankets and more. To have a puffy, cuddly monkey delivered to her sister at the time of day when Briar, our poor sleeper, is at her neediest, was simply too much. Her tears and anguish were every bit as genuine and painful as Ave’s fracture.
I perched on her bed and caught her up in my arms, her silky head resting on my shoulder and against Fin’s face. Her tiny shoulders were wracked with sobs. I murmured “It’s oks” into her head. I made no promises for presents, as I stroked her back and told her how much we loved her. I realized that the 3-4 weeks in a cast was going to mean suffering not just for Ave, but for Briar too. So, as we figure out how to entertain Ave, we’ll also work on how to keep Briar feeling special too.
Lucky for me, she’s a sucker for princesses so a quick homemade crown made for a brilliant ear-to-ear grin.