The Coloring Contest {that wasn't}

I know nothing of the world that contains siblings.  I'm an only child.  I'm sure that tells you a lot about me.  So I have no experience in how to deal with a sibling, let alone a little sister. The Hubbs has a big sister.  He knows life in terms of siblings, so he is better prepared for things like this:

That would be the coloring contest entry that didn't quite make it to the Fair.

It's Fair time here in Fresno, and as you can see the 70th birthday of Scoopy the Bee. Scoopy graces the pages of The Fresno Bee, The Sacramento Bee, and the Modesto Bee. So in an effort to celebrate his 70th, the Fresno Bee launched a coloring contest for the children of the Central Valley.  Great.  Awesome.  Everyone gets a chance to enter.  

Three Sundays ago, this 11x17 insert was delivered with our paper.  Caitlin immediately started coloring it.  As you can see, she took extra care with the Happy 70th, lining up her crayons, in Roy G. Biv order.  She worked on this for three days.  Three days.  Before school.  After school.  In between homework sessions.  As a precaution, I told her to put the page on a side buffet where her sister couldn't reach it.  That way it would be safe from her little hands.  And for three days, we did.  We were safe.  We were almost finished with the coloring contest entry, that in her parents mind, was a shoe in for 1st place in her age group.  

Then came the screams on Wednesday night.

The Hubbs and I were in our office discussing things like bills.  So you know we had no idea what was happening in the rest of the house.  Seriously a bomb could have gone off.  Caitlin was in her room, and Mac, well Mac was at the dinner table, coloring.  The Hubbs and I were still in deep conversation when, we heard the scream (Mac's name), and then we heard the wails.

Mac had destroyed sisters picture with a rogue green marker.

Now I'm going to be really honest with you all.  In the past, when little sister has destroyed something of big sisters, my first response is: Why wasn't (what ever was destroyed) put away?  Usually I make this an I told you so/you should listen to Mommy kind of moment.  I know it's bad, but you can only instruct a girl to put her Monster High dolls away so many times, before cries about broken legs and arms at the evil hands of a little sister do nothing for your cold mothering heart.

This time was different.  This time I felt Caitlin's pain.  She had worked so hard on this.  She had really put thought into the colors she selected.  She was meticulous in her execution.  I mean as meticulous as a six year old can be.  I was impressed with her dedication to the project.  I was proud.  So I did my best not to tear up, when she brought me the picture.  

Of course I started yelling too.  And Mac started crying and saying she was sorry.  And then she got a a time out, because this was a big deal.  This wasn't just some old coloring book. This wasn't a Monster High Doll, or a My Little Pony.  This was something her sister had worked really hard on.  And we all, Daddy and Mommy included, needed to treat it as such. We needed for Mackenzie to understand that this wasn't acceptable, and we needed Caitlin to know that we understood and validated her broken heart.

This was a very obvious parenting moment for me and the Hubbs.  This was our chance to teach respect to our two daughters, who let's face it, will have this same fight from now until forever.  This won't be the first time that they fight over beloved possessions.  This won't be the first time one of them breaks the others heart.  This won't be the first time for anger, disappointment and tears.  

Like the good parents we are, every once in awhile, we sat them down.  We talked to them about taking care of their stuff, especially if that stuff is important to them.  We talked about respect and what that means, in terms that little folks could understand.  We talked about what it would feel like if Caitlin took a green marker to Black Baby, how would that make Mackenzie feel?  We also made Mackenzie apologize to Caitlin.  Let me just say that she would have rather drank toilet water than apologize on the spot.  I'm sure that's not a first either.  

The saddest part of this story is that Caitlin, despite the fact that we got new coloring pages from both Grandmas, did not want to color another one.  She was done.  Her best efforts thwarted by a little sister and a green marker.  I tried to talk her into it.  I tried to teach her to try, try again.  But at six, this wasn't a lesson she was ready for.  She was over it.  And frankly, even as bad as it sounds, I would have been over it too.

Is there a moral of this story?  Maybe.  Keep your masterpieces away from little sisters? Make sure Mommy puts all the markers in a locked safe?  Always have extra coloring contest pages on hand?  Whatever the moral, I'm hoping that we taught a little about respect, a little about forgiveness, and a little about loving your sister anyway.  Because as my friend Jeska says, they will always be sisters, so they're gonna have to work that crap out.

And work it out they will.


  1. I have a little sister (and two older!) and there have been times where I just wanted to punch her so hard... she ruined a lot of things, got me in trouble, and basically was a typical little sister! However, we have always been best friends, and I talk to her every day now. Sisters are rough!

  2. Coming from a viewpoint of an older sister myself, I totally feel Caitlin's pain. It's tough to have a little one following you around, trying to do everything you do and get all up in your business all of the time. We used to fight a lot when we were younger...and of the physical, wrestling around on the ground until we ended up laughing hysterically kind. We are best friends now, so I'd say it was worth the extra torture when we were younger.

  3. I'm an older sister, but as the next in line is 10 years younger, I only experienced this type of pain. My parents never sat down with my siblings and told them how much my belongings meant to me. It was always my fault for leaving it out Within Reach of my siblings. And sometimes depending on the toy my dad would take the toy out of a cabinet and give it to my siblings since I wasn't playing with it. So I commend you for talking to your little one about how hurtful it is to the big one.