We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

← Back to all stories
Photo ofNatalia Mialkowski

My cousin and I used to be as close as peanut butter and jelly. We were closer than sisters and those were the best moments of my life. I would hang out with my cousin and play with her all day long until  we grew into our teenage years.  When I moved to a new house, she started to make material things worth more than our friendship, especially when she started saying my room de- cor is vile. “Your bedsheets are ugly, your decorations are ugly, and your clothes are ugly too.”  I thought that she was joking because she’s a smart 12-year-old, but she wasn’t. My feelings were hurt but I let it go because maybe it was just one of those days. Weeks passed and she didn’t stop critiquing everything. Every time my aunt would call to ask if my cousin could come over to my house I begged my mom to say no because all she ever did was critique some- thing my parents worked for and created. My mom thought that was rude, so she always invited my cousin to come over. It started to hurt me inside and slowly damage our relationship.  My parents never had a lot of money since my dad worked alone, so every time something new came out I asked my dad if he could get me that item for Christmas or a special holiday. She was able to ask her rich aunt to buy it for her and she would brag that she got it first. When the first iPad came out, she owned it immediately and rubbed it in my face.  Our friendship was crumbling, but I didn’t want to lose the closeness we had. Every time we fought about where we should go or what we should do, I let her choose so she would appreciate it, but it didn’t help. It was hard to tell someone how I was feeling because I’m three years older than her, so she’s the “younger child”. Everyone believed her while I was the villain, the bad one, the monster. Explaining it to my mom was something I needed to do and fortunately, my mom finally started to realize what was happening.  My mom realized how ungrateful my cousin was to my parents and others. Every time my dad bought us something or took us someplace, she never even uttered a “Thank you.” Since we are a Polish family, everyone expects to hear this gratitude to show appreciation.  This was a huge problem. I couldn’t think of a way to prove it, but I thought of a way to try and fix it. I decided to redecorate my room, not just because of her but because I was growing up and needed it. All the things I had in my room were old from the apartment so I had to get new ones to freshen up the room. I made a list of things, a bench, a chair, a new desk, and artwork. I told my mom about everything and we went shopping. The next day my cousin came over and while I was reading a book she found my list and said, “Are you finally going to change everything because I’m right?”  I was super frustrated. That following weekend I had enough with all her pettiness. I wanted to show her that I wanted to value our friendship, not just keep arguing over material things. Those things don’t matter to me but my friendship with her does. When I got to her house I saw in her tiny room that she had a new desk, a new chair and even a bench that spins. Buying all these items was the best example to show how she always has to be competitive with everything we have. I didn’t want to say that I gave up already, but I tried the best I could. At least my family sees what’s happening. I continue to try my best to seal our friendship back together, but until then, it’s peanut butter without jelly. 

© Natalia Mialkowski. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.