Ask just about any parent if they have a ‘favorite’ child – and they will usually bluster until they’re blue in the face, that NO, of course not. Dont be ridiculous. I love all my children equally. Exactly the same.
I’m going to risk death and dismemberment and say – they’re lying. Big time. It is impossible to love all your children EXACTLY the same because they are all different and at different times in your parenting life, you will alternately love them/detest them/despair of them/be confounded by them. How do I know this? I have five children. I am one of six children. Im one of gazillions of grandchildren ( my grandfather had 24 children. Don’t ask.) In a nutshell, I have had heaps of opportunity to study out for myself – this conundrum of parents and their favorites.
Favoritism – both real and imaginary – runs rampant in every family. Just ask any kid on the street. Or living in your house! Children are rabid dogs out for blood at the slightest hint of favoritism. Injustice. “His piece of cake is bigger than mine!” “She got 3 presents from Santa and I only got 2!” Even teenagers work that no-fair-favorite angle. “You let her go to a birthday party at night, how come you wont let me go to a party at night?” (Umm because she’s 7 and it was a fully adult supervised event at McDonalds while YOUR invitation is to a dance party rave at some unspecified location with unknown numbers of unsavory people all imbibing uncertifiably disgusting amounts of unlicensed liquids…NO WAY IN FLAMING HECK!)
Kids will use some of the weirdest things to pin favoritism charges on their parents. Like illness and special conditions. When we were growing up, my kid sister was a constant sickly worry to my parents and so she always got special food, special treatment. Which to the rest of us translated to “She’s a spoilt rotten favorite brat! No fair!” Two of my children are gluten intolerant and dairy makes them queasy. You’d think this would make their siblings feel sorry for them – as they scoff down chocolate cake and buckets of ice cream while the sorry pair are sipping on soymilk. Nope. Little Son is constantly accusing us of mistreating him, “You never buy ME special soya ice pops! Its not fair.” (Roll my eyes. Whatever. Whine to somebody who cares.) Sometimes the whole favorite whinge just annoys me and I want to scream: “You’re right! I cant stand you – thats why Im treating you this way. Everybody else is the favorite EXCEPT you!”
My dad knew the trick to successful neutral Switzerland parenting. He worked on building a separate relationship with each of his children. One where he talked to you like you were an adult. (even when you were an irritating 8yr old) Where he made you feel like your opinion actually mattered. Each of us always knew we had a connection with our Dad that was independent of any other sibling. Thats why, each of my sisters will tell you that …”I’M MY DAD’S FAVORITE!” I have a lot to learn from his example.
If Im being totally honest, I would have to say that while I love ALL of my children – sometimes I like being with one more than the other. I like hanging with Sade when she’s in a joking mood – that girl is so funny I dont know how we’re even related. I prefer JB’s company when I’m tired, sick or stressed – he’s the calm, helpful, responsible one that knows just what to say and do to soothe any situation. If I need a super quick, super fast helper with a project or some housework? Then the Demon is the one I want with me – eager, energetic and never complains, he’s defn my favorite at choretime. The Princess is gentle and kind – always my choice when i want to be uplifted or reminded that motherhood is a blessing. And the Bella Beast? When she’s not screaming or stamping her foot at me – she’s my favorite for snuggles, kisses, cheeky grins and hugs.
So do I have favorites? Yes I do. And then sometimes, I dont like any of my children at all. (shock, horror) Those are the days when I wish all of them would disappear and leave me to enjoy the bliss of solitude. Aint nobody the favorite then!
(That’s alright though – Im sure there’s some days when I’m not their favorite mother either.)