Sibling rivalry is a common occurrence and no one practices it better than my eldest daughter. Jealous of her younger sister from Day One, she communicated her toddler angst by throwing hard objects at her sister’s head and getting her in a headlock that any pro wrestler would be proud of. As she matured she was able to vocalise her hostility:
“I wish I didn’t have a sister. Then I wouldn’t have to share stuff.”
“Jasmine is so annoying! I wish I was an only child.”
I can normally predict these rants. They surface when her younger sister takes her belongings without asking. They fire up when she’s doing homework and her sister’s fingers creep across her computer keyboard. But they also come at the most unsuspecting times. When I was reading the newspaper at breakfast recently, I walked straight into her animosity trap, like an innocent insect flying right into a spider’s web.
“It’s from 25 years ago. Chinese soldiers were pushing back a crowd of people.”
“Because the people were protesting.” With each answer I unknowingly wriggled deeper into the hold of her spider’s web.
“Why were they protesting?”
“Well, China is a communist country, which means the government has many strict rules that its people don’t always like.”
Jesus, how do I have a conversation on censorship with a six-year-old? “The government controls what people can see on TV and the internet.”
“In China you’re only allowed to have one child.”
“If you lived in China, Mummy, then you would only be allowed to have one child?” “Yes.”
“That would be me!” She jumped out of her seat. I haven’t heard as much joy in her voice since Santa Claus lasted visited. She had cocooned me in her web and she had pounced on her prey.
Predicting her next move, I said, “We’re not moving to China.”