I Need A Hug

When Lyn was about 11, she was really starting to excel with Special Olympics.  She had a Track and Field meet and walked away with a couple of metals.  At least one was gold.  It was only her second or third gold metal at that point.

After the event, we stopped at the grocery story to pick up a few things for the weekend.  One of our cousins was visiting.  She had gone to the meet with us and was going to spend the night.  When we got to the store, Lyn wanted to keep wearing her metals.  Mom gave her permission and into the store we went.

As we walked through the store, her metals knocked against each other, announcing her arrival on each isle.  The other shoppers would stop and make a fuss over Lyn and her metals.  They asked what she had done to earn the metals and then praised her for doing a good job.  Lyn was preening and nearly prancing down the isles.

I got annoyed.  The metals knocking against each other was like bells clanging in my head, getting worse with each isle.  I lost what little patience I had and starting making comments about it, trying to get the sound stopped along with the attention from random strangers.  My comments started making our cousin uncomfortable.  By the fourth time I smarted off, Mom had enough.  She pulled me off to the side and came down to my eye level.  "You listen to me kid..." she began.

She proceeded to tell me that I was not going to be ugly about my sister's accomplishment because it was her accomplishment and may be the only way in which she succeeds in life.  I had the whole world ahead of me and they would cheer me too when my time came.  Mom laid it out in no uncertain terms that my behavior was unacceptable.  I promptly buttoned up.  Our poor cousin was deeply shocked.

I was deeply jealous of the attention paid to my sister and felt it was out of proportion to her achievement. I knew this was not going to be the only time Lyn competed and foresaw a lifetime of participation with Special Olympics.  My achievements would not garner the same attention and would not come early in life.  In both of those points, I was right.  However, Mom was right to stop my attempts to ruin my sister's pride and self worth.  Jealousy is an ugly emotion.

Mom acknowledged that Lyn would continue to get lavish praise for regular Special Olympics events.  Mom also acknowledged that attention was not always going to be equally distributed.  A compromise was found.  In moments when I felt jealous or excluded again, I was to say "I need a hug."  This innocuous statement would let Mom know that I was starting to hurt without causing a negative scene or diminishing my sister in any way.  Our little code phrase was used several times over the years.


Popular Posts