Have you ever wondered quite how formative these early years are? Specifically how much your child's relationship with their sibling might affect what they're eventually like, when they go from little person to big person?
The reason I ask is my increasing suspicion that Ruby's personality has so far been, in no small part, formed as a result of what her big sister Ava chooses, or doesn't choose.
To explain, the most obvious example of this is Ruby's favourite colour being blue.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a little girl deciding blue is her favourite colour, of course... but did she just end up thinking her favourite colour was blue by default?
You see, Ava's favourite colour has always been pink. She's a pink, pink, girlie girl. And so ever since Ruby stopped being a human larvae, and was able to sit up and start making choices, whatever pack, or choice of something or other we had, Ava took the pink one, Ruby got the blue one.
Ava had the pink cutlery, Ruby had the blue. Ava had a pink jacket, Ruby got blue. After a while, Ava started saying: "But Ruby likes blue!" (probably worried I might offer Ru a pink version of anything). And from that point on, Ruby would agree: "Boo."
What else? We have a box of sweet fairytale puppets. Ava ALWAYS grabs the princess puppet (pink dress). Ruby understands, without question, that Ava wants (and will have) the princess puppet. So Ruby grabs the prince puppet (blue jacket), and sometimes also the wicked stepmother puppet (she does an excellent cackle), and they do their show.
Another part of me wonders whether it's all just a phase – both the pink thing, and this sort of 'natural order' thing, where Ava usually gets her way.
Well, I decided to put the pink/blue/generosity equation to the test. With Smarties.
I had two tubes of them (unbeknownst to the girls – I hide all chocolates and sweets given to them, in case I have one of those days when, you know, I need them), and I tipped them out and picked out the blue and pink ones.
Six pink, nine blue.
"Okay!" I said, "Who wants some Smarties?"
"I've got pink ones and blue ones..."
"I WANT PINK!" Ava was shoving her hand up in the air.
"I want BLUE!" Ruby was practically snuffling my hands.
I tipped them out of my hands on to the living room table. Instantly, their eyes darted from one pile to the other.
"Ruby's got more than meeeee!"
"Yes, but you only want pink, right? Or also blue?"
"I want pink but..."
Ruby interjected: "Ava? Wassum blue?" And she handed over two of her blue Smarties.
I looked at Ava, and she hugged Ruby, and beamed at her magnificent pile of natural colouring. Then, finally, she said: "Want a pink one, Ruby?"
We counted the Smarties. Seven for Ava (five pink, two blue), and eight for Ru (one pink, seven blue). Uneven amounts. But Ava had mostly pink. And Ruby had mostly blue. And both had been generous(ish). Everyone seemed happy.
My experiment told me NOTHING.