My two teenage daughters are always competing about one thing or the other. Their competitions can be quite intense and many times I have to step in and cool them down. It does not help that they are only a year apart in age and the younger girl is quite heady. At least they are modest enough not to resort into physical confrontations. They usually settle their scores with verbal arguments.
It is not that they do not love each other, they are actually very good buddies. I have tried to figure out why they are always competing against each other but I guess they are just being girls. I think they try to outdo each other in my presence so as to impress me. I notice that when they are not in my presence they do not compete as much.
I have been seeing a new kind of completion coming up however. Since they got into their teens and joined junior high school, they have been paying more attention to their dressing. They are more particular about their cleanliness and are demanding more colorful things for themselves.
The other day the older girl got a bottle of perfume from her father on her birthday and the other girl immediately started goading me for perfume. “You are too young to wear perfume”, I tried to explain, “But dad bought Becky a bottle!” she went on, and I realized it was a battle I could not win.
A few days before that I had to firmly put my foot down when I noticed that Becky the elder girl had come from school with some hint of makeup on her lips. I was horrified. I gave her a stern lecture knowing too well that if I did not stop her immediately she would get bolder and her sister would follow suit.
I was however delighted when I saw that their desire to outdo each other was also extended to some encouraging activities.
One day when in the kitchen preparing supper, I called upon them to come and help since I saw that they were not busy. I told them that they were in charge of making the salad and soup. Previously, they had not been very enthusiastic about cooking and I had had to push them to help me.
This time I however noticed that they were each trying to prove to the other that they had a better way of making the salad. They started by arguing about what implement they would use to chop up the vegetables. Becky, my first born, was insisting on using the food processor for the salad while Jackie the younger girl was protesting that that would just create more work when cleaning.
Finally the argument was settled when Jackie told Becky that she could go ahead and make the salad using the food processor and that she would make the soup. She went on to say that each person would then be responsible for cleaning their own dirty dishes.
Becky quickly agreed before realization hit her and she saw that she would have more work to do since the immersion blender that Jackie would use for preparing the soup was very easy to clean.
Quietly watching the whole drama from a distance, I smiled, amused at the drama of my two darling daughters.