I was telling someone I work with about our little birthday party and the home made cake and the swimming and how much I enjoyed it when she said, “I wish the parties in my family could be like that. Just everyone getting together and having fun.”
She said that in her family (quite large, 7 kids) birthdays were all about the competition. Who had the prettiest cake, the cutest them, the most elaborate food. I can’t imagine having parties like that; where everything you do is held up for inspection. Ours are about doing what the person wants. Having the kind of food they like, making their favorite cake. Middle sister asked for, and got, tuna casserole because she’d always liked it as a kid.
When you think about it, I guess in a large family your siblings are the most likely to be your competition. For any kind of resource. For food, for your parents attention, for any of the available family resources. There are endless examples of it in the animal world, where only the strongest siblings survive.
I remember hearing about sibling rivalry years ago as if it were something negligible and childish, when in fact it can be deadly serious.