One morning at breakfast, my wife, KayEm, was teaching my daughter Nee about matter. As they discussed the concept, Nee provided some concrete examples of matter. KayEm was pleased by Nee’s mastery of the topic and continued explaining the three states of matter.
My son, N, upset that he wasn’t grasping the concept, decided to ask a direct question.
“Excuse me, Mommy” interjected N. “What did you say matter was?”
Nee chuckled. “You don’t know what matter is?” Her question was uttered with a snarky tone that caused her brother to blurt out an answer in order to save face.
“Be nice, Nee,” KayEm said sternly. “He’s only in kindergarten.”
“Yeah, that’s right,” Nee said. “He won’t learn about matter until he’s in third grade.”
“Of course, you could tell him what it is right now,” KayEm said.
“No I can’t,” protested Nee.
“Why not?” KayEm asked.
“Because I don’t want him to be smarter than me,” Nee said.
“I’m almost taller than you,” N said trying to get a rise out of his sister. Nee growled and kicked her brother under the table.
“Nee,” KayEm said. “I told you to be nice to your brother.”
“But I don’t want him to be taller than me or smarter than me,” said Nee. She grew more upset and started giving her brother the evil eye.
“Nee,” said KayEm trying to reassure our hot-headed daughter. “It’s not a competition.” Nee looked at KayEm as if she were speaking another language.
“It is a competition, Mommy” exclaimed Nee. “And I want to be the winner so please don’t teach N about matter.” Nee hunched over her bowl and shoved spoonfuls of of Cookie Crisp into her mouth. After a few minutes, Nee stopped eating and turned towards her brother.
“And you’d better not Google it either.”
Question: How do you deal with your kids’ sibling rivalry?