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Jealousy, Four-Year-Old Style

Cora’s been working hard to keep a
steady stream of M&Ms coming via the whole potty-training
thing, and it’s having an unintended side-effect: it’s
driving Maddie wild with envy.

Cora’s first morning on the
potty-training regime, Maddie’s eyes widened in disbelief
when Cora got her second M&M. “But she already had one
M&M today!” Maddie complained. “Yes, honey, I know,
but Cora gets one every time she uses the potty correctly.”

“It’s not fair if Cora gets treats today and I
don’t!” Maddie said, tears beginning to fall.

“Well, honey, it may not have seemed fair to Cora that she
spent three months watching you get a starburst or M&M every
time you used the potty when you were potty-training. That’s
just the way it goes.”

At which point Maddie had a complete meltdown.

When she’d recovered herself, Maddie came up to me and said,
“Mommy, when you give Cora an M&M and not me, it makes me
feel like you don’t love me.”

What am I supposed to say to that?

I made some grand, tender speech about rewards and encouragements
for Cora, and how we should be happy with her progress and
celebrate every time she earns an M&M, and how I don’t
love Maddie any less, blah blah blah, but I don’t think she
was buying it. At this age, words are cheap and M&Ms – or
at least equal gift-giving – is the currency that pays for

Apparently, with a four-year-old, you CAN buy her love.

Later that day, Maddie and I prayed that God would help her heart
find room to celebrate Cora’s accomplishments without feeling
envy or crabbiness about what she hasn’t gotten herself. And
ever since then, Maddie’s been pretty good about smiling and
clapping Cora on the back and saying, “Good job, Cora!
You’re getting another M&M!” Though I can see
it’s not completely painless for Maddie all the time,
I’m hugely proud of her and how hard she’s working.

I think I may reward her with an M&M or two – speak her


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