tuesday lunch date

March 16, 2011 |  Category:   dining out life

I don’t think I ever feel more like a parent than I do when I’m sitting with my kids’ teachers and having parent-teacher conferences (I also sort of freaked out a little when I realized that there is less than 4 months left in the school year. The time! Where does it go!). To celebrate Mia’s stellar report card (she is reading 2 grade levels ahead) I took her out to lunch after I picked her up from a half day at school. We weren’t the only ones with that idea. Seemed like every place in the neighborhood was packed, bewildering the sushi restaurant waiter and the table sitting next to us. They were visiting friends in the neighborhood and had wondered if everyday was like this, if parents in our Brooklyn neighborhood took their kids out for sushi lunch all the time (ha!)

I can’t remember the last time I had one-on-one time with Mia, just like this, sitting down at a restaurant eating a leisurely lunch. It was nice. But it sort of highlighted a bunch of “issues” she’s having with Claudine lately – so much so that I discovered she had written quite a few essays and mini-books at school about her relationship with her little sister. The word “annoying” came up more than a few times. It’s kind of amazing what’s revealed when it’s written down, even by a 7 year old. I sense that she gets really frustrated when Claudine wants to join in at every toy or game that she plays, copies her drawings *exactly* when they are sitting opposite each other at their art table, and in her words, gets more attention from us. “Claudine! Claudine! It’s always about Claudine!” (Um, is it bad that I always think of “Marsha Marsha Marsha!” when she says that?).

It’s interesting to see their relationship evolve. Right now, there is a lot of fighting. Their bickering will often be the thing that wakes me up in the morning, but it’s not all bad. I know that Mia deeply cares for her little sister, plus she told me that she’s glad Claudine didn’t end up being a boy because they can play together with all the same girly toys. It does makes me wonder how different Claudine would be if she were the first born. She copies and emulates Mia so much. I always wanted a sister growing up. Which reminds me of this little snippet of a book about siblings that I read at my parent-teacher conference today:

(a short essay with illustrations on how your sibling was born, by Mia)
First, you ask your mommy for a sibling.
Then you wait and wait and wait and wait.
Finally, Mommy goes to the hospital.
Your sibling is born and you have someone to play with.
When your sister gets older, she gets annoying.
It reminds you that you don’t want any more siblings.

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  • Eve March 16, 2011 at 6:45 am

    Aaaawh…..love her honesty. Relationships are never one dimensional-that’s what makes them interesting πŸ™‚

  • logsylou March 16, 2011 at 8:04 am

    I love the simplicity in how she is exploring her feelings about it all. Also makes me laugh imagining how they will be when they are much older…the best of friends no doubt. When I was born, my brother was devastated that I was girl and asked my parents if he could throw me down the rubbish chute, ha! Of course now he’d go to the ends of the earth for me. It’s lovely that Mia will have snippets like this to look back on.

  • Kathleen March 16, 2011 at 8:41 am

    This post hits close to home for me. My sister is 7 years older than me and I learned to draw by watching her – mimicking the way she held her Berol Prisma colors and even the way she would squint at her drawings.

    We went on to work together at an advertising agency as adults. She was my creative director and I was her art director. She would give me her words and I would make them come to life. And I’m still squinting at screens – I blame her for the crows feet around my eyes.

  • c March 16, 2011 at 9:57 am

    i believe mia is going through adolescence and it is typical to see the younger ones always trying to copy and be like their older siblings.

  • Pancakes For Recess March 16, 2011 at 10:04 am

    How poetic!! I love the raw honesty. I have to tell you – 99% of those in my class with younger siblings feel the exact same way. How beautiful that she finds solace in writing – much like her Mom, perhaps? Have a great day, Jenna:)

  • Laura March 16, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I don’t have a sister, either, so it sure feels different to parent two girls! They are as different as night and day…

    I wish we had half days for parent-teacher!

  • Sisilia March 16, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Mia writes well πŸ™‚

    My sisters were both 7 and 8 when I was born. We were not that close because of the age difference. Luckily things started to change when I hit adulthood and we could finally relate.

    I am still my Mum’s baby, though… and I am 33 this year!

  • SY March 16, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Love her sibling essay, reminds me when our older son asked for a sister. He already has a younger brother but was still gunning for a sister. When we told him there was a 50/50 chance it would be another boy, he said forget it, he didn’t think he could stand it with another brother like the one he already had — he was five at the time.

  • Camila F. March 16, 2011 at 11:10 am

    I have a big sister and, when we were kids, I used to copy her all the time. It’s amazing how different we are today, but still best friends. Mia is adorable and I love her truthfulness.

  • Hayley March 16, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I just about died chuckling over Mia’s snippet.

  • Melanie March 16, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    It’s so great that she can tell you about her troubles. I’m the younger sister in that scenario, and I still think my sister is the coolest ever–but we definitely went through a long phase where she did NOT want me around. We recently rediscovered her old diary on a visit home, and got to read allll about how annoying I was πŸ™‚ I guess it’s bound to happen. Someday I’m sure they will be best of friends!

  • cindy March 16, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Her poem is so true! My sister and I are 5 years apart and we grew up fighting A LOT… I wanted nothing to do with her because she copied everything I did too (I’m older). It went to the point where my dad wouldn’t allow us to bicker in front of him. I think it really worried him that we wouldn’t have any sort of a relationship as we grew older. But now, we’re the best of friends! We’re complete opposites and she often tells me that we wouldn’t be friends if we didn’t share the same blood. (um, thanks.) But I wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s the first person I want to share any news with. I always tell people I’m SO glad to have a sister… there’s nobody like her!

  • aqua6 March 16, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Awww… I am due with baby #2 soon and they will be 3 years apart. First is a girl and second a boy. It is interesting how the gender dynamic is so important. I bet Mia would love a regular lunch or alone time with you, maybe a walk or activity that is just “yours”. I remember feeling as the oldest child that the younger ones got more attention – I think maybe the help that is given is often viewed as unequal. They will love having each other when they are older!

  • Nina March 16, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Love this. I have two little boys that love to play and bicker.

  • Jennelle March 16, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    That essay gave me a good laugh!

    We are going through something similar in our home. My son is 4 and my daughter is almost 2 and it seems they are always fighting. My oldest has asked several times “why does she get to have everything?” πŸ™

    Hopefully devoting more one-on-one time will help the situation a bit.

  • jen March 16, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    awesome post. i always wanted a sister πŸ™‚ i’m sure you explained to her how “copying” is the biggest form of flattery and adulation.

  • tina March 16, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    I have the same issue with my kids. At a parent teacher conference at my son’s preschool, the teacher told me that once my son asked her how to spell ‘annoying. When she asked why, he said it was because his sister called him that all the time. πŸ™

  • Laura March 16, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    When my younger one is alone she acts different and plays different. The older one came home from preschool recently and told me about two boys fighting. I asked her if she ever fights at preschool and she said “No, there aren’t any two year old sisters at preschool.” I only had a brother and no sisters so I don’t remember getting into his stuff or he into mine, it is hard when they are both the same sex and close in age for sure.

  • Christie March 16, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    I felt the same way as Mia (even though I don’t remember asking for a little sister – she just appeared). =P When we were little, I resented having a “shadow.” My identity was connected to hers – it was always “C&J,” “brat 1, brat 2.” Every outfit I got, she got the same thing in a different color. It was almost, like, we were twins. I had no individuality. Even though I loathed it as a little girl, I’m soooooo grateful for her now. We have completely different personalities and interests, but she is my “baby sister” and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

  • lilcg March 16, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    love mia’s essay!

    and even though I am an only child I loved having one on one time with each of my parents. I can only imagine how much more important that would be for a kid with siblings.

  • phoebe March 17, 2011 at 12:33 am

    awww love her little outfit, very chanel!

  • Padmasari March 17, 2011 at 3:26 am

    Hahaha! I like her short essay, remind me with my sister. I have only one younger sister, and I waited until I was 8 years, when we were kids we rarely fight but when we were big we are very often different opinions πŸ™‚

  • Megan Champion March 17, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Seeing those dumplings has reminded me that I really want to get some when I come to NYC in June – can you recommend a place? Our frequent fliers miles have us at a hotel in Times Square but we will be all over for the weekend.

    Also, will stop in for something at your shop. I already know what I want πŸ™‚

    PS – I havent even read the post yet so no comment on that

  • mau March 18, 2011 at 5:52 am

    we’re expecting our second (gender still unknown) soon and our 6 yr old is already freaking out at the idea of having a sibling ‘annoying’ and copying her! i hope the age gap helps.

  • molly March 18, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    oy, siblings. wouldn’t want any more. wouldn’t want any fewer.

  • Nan March 19, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    My younger sister was the proverbial ‘apple of mother’s eye’ –I looked more like our dad and she looked more like our mom, and I guess our mom was endlessly charmed by it. It gave me independence, though, so I didn’t really mind when we were younger. My mother hovered over her, not me. I mind more now, because my sister insists on remaining the family darling (no matter what her behavior, I mean). Is this too much sharing? Oh well. I remember reading your post about Mia being sensitive to people always giving Claudine attention. It’s a primal issue of life and my hat is off to parents who figure out how to deal with it.
    By the way, Mia is so pretty and is going to blossom into a striking beauty — I wish she already knew that.

  • stuffedmice March 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Wow, her short essay reads like poetry! So, so true.