"I'm your favorite baby, right, Mom?" my 3-year-old granddaughter, Evie, asked me last week as she and my 1-year-old grandson, William, sat on my lap.
Looking over at William, who moved in with our family six weeks ago, Evie said, scrunching her nose, "He's just a cousin."
Jealousy. It's as natural as breathing. And her 3-year-old logic made me laugh.
William, naturally, is sharing the attention that was recently centered on Evie and her 6-year-old sister, Tilleigh. A baby, though, requires more hands-on attention with the feeding, the bathing, the diaper changing and, naturally, the holding. Everyone, though, gets the same amount of hugs and kisses.
It's a challenge for a parent and, in my case, grandparent, to spread the love evenly. But Evie has a point. Until six weeks ago, she was the baby of the family (we rarely saw William prior to him moving in with us). She took over the coveted spot from Tilleigh on April 26, 2010. Though Tilleigh was thrilled to have a baby sister, she, too, wasn't so understanding about giving up her spot as No. 1 grandchild.
As the mother of four and stepmother of two, I'm well aware that each child brings something different to the dynamics of a family. It's already evident with my grandchildren.
Tilleigh is the family entertainer. She loves making people, especially me, laugh. Being witty runs in my family. My dad's sense of humor was off the charts, and I, very humbly admit, make myself laugh. My classmates voted me "wittiest" in junior and high schools. I was never nominated for "Most Beautiful" mind you, but I've always put a lot of stock into having a good sense of humor. I'm thrilled to see Tilleigh take this family trait into another generation.
Evie's talent is being 100 percent adorable 100 percent of the time. Her facial expressions, her sweet and sometimes-demanding personality -- and her jealousy -- render me into a pile of mush on a daily basis.
William, even at 1, is a charmer. He's very independent and loves to have the freedom of exploring his surroundings. He has an infectious laugh, is very loving and has a smile that melts my heart.
Still, each one has a jealous streak. Even William.
The girls were sitting on my lap, as they often do, one night last week when William pulled himself up to my knees and started crying as he tried pushing Evie and Tilleigh to the side. He was jealous. The girls refused to budge, so I pulled William in between them and he used his head to try to move the girls off my lap.
The girls thought it was cute and, frankly, I loved it. My three grandchildren wanted to be with me and, by golly, they can have me until my last breath.
Evie does understand that William is more than "just a cousin." She and her sister adore the little fellow, and he's quite fond of them, too. I noticed one morning last week as I was getting William dressed that he and Evie were holding hands.
Yep. Hands down. William is more than just a cousin. He's a grandchild, just like Evie and Tilleigh.
And the best part?
Contact staff writer Karen Nazor Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6396.
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...