My daughter turned 7 last week. We had a busy week of party planning and spending time together.
There were many ideas swirling through my head today when I was thinking about what to write and as I was looking through my notes, I found a story I wrote when my daughter was 5 that I would like to share with you today…
A couple of weeks ago my 5 year old daughter was playing with her 4 year old cousin outside and they had a disagreement. After some discussion we found that my nephew had asked my daughter if she wanted to race. She said “no” and he got upset. Language is so powerful. Turns out they both wanted to do the same thing. They both wanted to run. My nephew calls running “racing” and my daughter is not interested in competitive games. When they talked about it they realized that they both wanted to run. The tears stopped and they ran and ran.
A few days ago I picked up my daughter from school and her mood was a bit sullen. I asked her how she was feeling and she didn’t want to tell me. I asked her to tell me when she was ready. It came out that she was sad because her friends have all been getting new lovies (stuffed animals) and she really wanted a new lovey too. I told her that just because her friends have something doesn’t mean that she needs to have it too, that everyone is different and that we can all be thankful for what we have, that some kids don’t have anything, yada yada… She said she felt “excluded” because she didn’t have a new lovey and all her friends did.
My daughter doesn’t frequently ask me to buy things for her and she is often content with playing with cardboard boxes, art supplies and her imagination. This is new. This apparently is the beginning of comparing ourselves to others. And, she is in a great school and has great friends whose families have similar values to us and still it happens.
Where does this come from? Is there something built into being human that causes us to compare ourselves to others? Maybe a vestige of living with limited resources and competing for mates? Is it natural to compare ourselves to others?
I’ve been reading lots about spiritual contentment and happiness lately and something I hear often is that people are happier when they don’t compare themselves to others. How do we prevent this from happening?
I suggested that we look through all the lovies that she has at home that she hasn’t played with for a while and we can turn an old lovey into a new one.
After some time and thought, my daughter agreed to try this. Just before bed we emptied out a basket that was filled with lovies and she excitedly rediscovered some forgotten loves.
We shared excitement over this and talked about how much more fun this was than buying a brand new toy. What was fun was that she got to reconnect with fond memories of playing with these toys and deepen her love for them.
She selected several lovies to cuddle with that night and told me how fun she thought that was. She told me how she thought this was better than buying a new lovey. And then she said, “because, it’s not a race, Mama.”