We were at a birthday party and the kids were playing together. Breyen was on a seesaw with another child and a third child wanted to get on the seesaw. The adults nearby explained to the kids that they would have to queue up and take turns to get on the seesaw.
At this point, Phoebie, my firstborn, decided that her brother wasn’t being nice.
“My Brother doesn’t like to share. He ALWAYS doesn’t share,” she ranted.
I stood there, looking at Phoebie. Obviously, she was just saying that because there was a situation and her brother was still on the seesaw. And obviously, what she said wasn’t true and she just felt like saying that.
After I got Breyen safely off the seesaw for the next child to get on, I pulled Phoebie aside.
“Phoebie,” I said, looking at her sternly, “I don’t like what you just said about your brother. That was not nice at all, and you obviously know that it is not true. He just got on the seesaw and when he is done, he will get off for the next person to play. Is it true that he ALWAYS doesn’t share? Does he not share with you?”
Phoebie was quiet, probably surprised that she was getting reprimanded for her rant.
“How would you feel if your brother said the same about you, right in front of you and all your friends?” I asked.
Phoebie continued to be quiet.
I knew I didn’t have to say anymore, so I stood at the side of the playground, watching the rest of the kids play.
A couple of minutes later, Phoebie went up to Breyen quietly and apologised for what she said.
The next day, as we were getting ready to go out, I could hear the kids playing together.
“Jiejie, would you like this?” I could hear Breyen say.
“Yes Didi,” Phoebie answered.
This nice and courteous went on for a while as I was putting my makeup. I decided to call Phoebie to me.
“Phoebie, it looks like Didi and you are having a good time playing together. Now, think about what you said last night. So is it really true, that Didi ALWAYS doesn’t share?”
Phoebie shook her head quietly.
“I want you to understand something. I know some of the kids who were waiting for their turn were not happy at first when Didi was on the seesaw. But it doesn’t mean that you have to say something bad about your brother just to add to the situation. It is worse when you say something that is not true,” I said.
“Look at my brothers and I,” I continued, “We don’t always agree with each other, but we don’t go and say bad things about one another. We still try to support one another in whatever way we can.”
“There are some people in life that you get to choose – your friends and all that. But there are people that you are born to, you don’t get to choose – your parents and your siblings. Most of the time, it is the people that you don’t get to choose who will always love you and support.”
Phoebie looked at me quietly, tears in her eyes.
I guess she got the message.