Ask any parent with more than one child if she has a favorite and she will say no. She will be a liar. All parents have favorites. Who that is may change from day to day, even minute to minute, but at any given time a favorite rises to the top.
If you have brothers or sisters you know what I mean. Your mom had a favorite and so did your dad and everybody knew it. (Of course, it was never you, was it?)
Growing up, we knew Harry was the favorite — the oldest, the baby with health issues and too many hospital visits. To this day, we grumble that it’s still true. Next? Michelle, of course, as the baby. No matter what a brat she was, she could do no wrong. Then? Stephen. Mr. BMOC, athletic, top grades, do-gooder. Sometimes he could be number two, depending on what Michelle had done over the weekend.
And me? Number four. Bottom of the barrel.
This is my opinion. I’m sure that all of my siblings have a different view — and okay, I’ll concede that I’m often my Dad’s favorite, but that’s just because I was the most difficult for him to understand during my turbulent adolescent years (and, come to think of it, the turbulent early adult years after college. I probably confuse him today, also.).
Because you can’t help it. As a parent you might be drawn toward the child who is not having the tantrum. Or your heart might break for the one who has the most difficult time. You could give the most hugs to the one who is quiet, alone, seemingly unnoticed. Or you might be most fond of the one who can get himself dressed and out the door with no help, leaving you one less thing to worry about at six o’clock in the morning.
It changes day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute.
We love our children fiercely, unconditionally, and will fight to the death to defend each and every one. But we don’t always like them. It’s a secret few parents talk about.
Sometimes Cooper is very whiny and has crying fits over the slightest injury, emotional or physical. I hate to see him hurt — real or imagined — but after the 97th breakdown in an hour, my sympathy has worn thin. I want to tell him to get over it, but I can’t because he is only five and five year olds cry a lot. And why not? Things hurt. So I bite my tongue, rub his back, and long for the time in the future when he can bump his shin and shake it off. Then again, I know that in the future I’ll long for the ago-time, now, when he let me rub his back and comfort him.
Sometimes Ellie falls down too much and I get irritated. Sometimes Joanna is too clingy when I’m trying to work on the computer or cook dinner. Sometimes Mitzi acts too grownup and bosses everyone around, including me, and I really lose my patience.
We love the child, hate the behavior. And that’s why favorites will rise, like bubbles through a thick gravy. Easy is easy, and we like easy. We parents have a lot to think about — anything that eases our minds, well, gimme more of that. Joanna’s hug that smooth a rough moment, Cooper’s hand out to Ellie when she’s fallen, Mitzi’s fingers fastening buttons and zippers for the little ones, Ellie’s unsolicited compliments. These moments ease our days, and the child behind the serenity is our favorite. For that moment.
Hour to hour, minute to minute. l don’t know who my favorite is today. So far, I like all four children all as much as I love them, which is boundless and great. Of course, three of them are at school and number four is in the other room, catching up on the Wiggles, leaving me to blog in peace.
Ask me again when they all get home and are hungry.