One surprising thing in my life is the amount of pure animosity my sixteen year old daughter has had to suffer through. Much of it was merely deflected spite, especially from the days people would get nasty with us about having only one child, they would get spiteful with her as well or instead of directly with us (I'm a litigator after all).
She would just turn away, though when I found out or faced the adults, I eventually took to explaining that we had been through seven pregnancies, three funerals and three miscarriages ...
Now with a sixteen year-old and a five year-old we often get comments about the gap, but only from strangers. (I'm no longer as pained or as angry as when I wrote Only One). We gently clear up their concerns and criticisms, though it takes work.
Through all of this, since 1992, the sixteen year-old has gotten a lot of grief, not only from the adults too nasty to be snide directly to her parents, but from other children who think of her as lucky and privileged and safe to beat up on since she is one of the most patient and kind children I know.
Yes, on the one hand she has parents who spend time with her, some wide ranging experiences and is beautiful. Teachers love her. People do things for her.
For example, a friend of ours just gave her a horse and she is now enrolled in an invitation only barn. The the horse is getting a month of intensive training before she starts riding it from a trainer with a year+ long waiting list (the friend is very, er, focused). When I was a kid I'd have been jealous of someone who just got to pet a horse. I was grateful for some used shoes someone gave me. Things like that happen to her and her life does look charmed.
But she has had some terribly tough times, as have we all. She is still recovering memories that she lost after the last of the deaths in our family. She has been through a lot of pain and shared a lot of hardship. But the people who have hated her on sight don't see that. (A number of them have told her they just hated her when they first saw her and decided then and there to just beat her face in).
Eventually she has turned around each of the people she has dealt with who hated her on sight. By patience and communication she has stopped the violence, both verbal and physical over and over again, and been a good friend to her friends. But she would rather not go back to everyone knowing her past (she still remembers being younger and having people point at her as the freak whose older sister just died). That isn't the sort of thing that one wants as a first impression.
I wish she didn't have to experience random jealous hatred in addition to everything else. At least there is a way to turn it, for the most part, but it would be nice if it just did not happen at all. Guess there are a lot of things I wish.