“Always be nice to your children because they are the ones who will choose your rest home.”
Someone asked me the other day who my favorite kid was . . . I said, “I really like the neighbor’s kid down the street. She’s a cool kid.” The person then corrected herself, “I meant, who is your favorite kid in the family.” Oh! Despite the clarification, I still didn’t change my answer.
The most recent edition of Time magazine had a big story about parents having “favorite’ children within the family. Despite all of the hoopla and wisdom of the generations of parents from the past who stated that they had no “favorites and loved all their children the same”—research says that they were lying. Research says that despite all the fancy talk from parents that they love all their children equally, it just isn’t true . . . at least not in the eyes of the children. Parents have “favorites” and they play those “favorites”. Ask any person who was ever a sibling and he or she will tell you, “Yeah, my parents had favorites!”
Well, I am telling you right now, I love all my children equally and do not favor any one of them over the others. It is sort of like the person who says that she isn’t prejudice—she hates everyone! I love my children equally because I do know that they will someday choose the nursing home I will be admitted to. With power like that you need to love and respect.
I imagine that if you ask my children they will tell you a different story. I am sure that they will be able to point their fingers at one of their siblings and state that “Mom and Dad loved you best”. That’s what the wife and I get for rising our children to think for themselves—I know now we should have worked harder at indoctrinating them with parental absolutes, myths, and lies. Despite what they think, I really do think that the wife and I really do attempt to love our children equally no matter what the authors of the Time magazine article think.
Each of our children has brought into our lives a variety of gifts that the others could not offer. Each has blessed us in ways that have made the two of us better as parents and as individuals. They have made us have to look at the world in four new ways and ways that we might have chosen to look at the world. They have equally made us laugh, and equally made us cry. Never for a moment did they ever make life boring.
For example, the oldest son has brought patience into our lives with his stubbornness and knack for making life an interesting adventure that doesn’t seem to follow too many of the rules of life. Our oldest child is the dreamer and lover of life who learns the hard way—he is well onto his doctorate in the college of hard knocks. He has taken us through the proverbial wringer a time or two. Yet his charm and charisma are hard to deny—it is just hard not to root for the kid as he has a ton of potential. But to us he has gifted us with patience and in return he has received love and grace fitting to his gift to us.
The daughter . . . well, she gifted us with a son-in-law. A son-in-law we like. In that way she did well. Her real gift though is the ability to dream with a child-like awe that it will all work itself out in the end. For her that is the way that things seem to bounce. She is a dreamer who can’t give up the dream even though it seems to go in a million different directions. Which brings us back to the son-in-law—he was her Prince Charming who pretty much fulfilled her dream of that special person to love. The son-in-law was almost too good to be true even when he proposed to our daughter while in New York’s Central Park during a horse-drawn carriage ride. It was a dream she believed in and hung on to until it came true. Her gift to us was the belief in dreams . . . they really do come true. Our gift to her . . . her biggest cheerleaders.
Number two son blessed us with the gift of stories, questions, and persistence. This son loves a good story and surprisingly—whether he realizes it or not, his is a good story. Ever since he was a small child he loved a good story and has become a sort of chronicler of the family stories. But he also likes to ask questions—lots of questions. This too was a habit he has had since childhood. Yet it is his persistence that is the greatest gift he has blessed us with. From a young age a constant companion in his life has been Epilepsy that is severe enough that life is truly difficult because the seizures can be crippling at any moment in his life. It makes life difficult never knowing when the storm might hit and limits his life. Despite it all he has not given up and is striving (though stubbornly at times) to have a normal life just like his siblings. No matter how many times the Epilepsy has thrown him down he has gotten up and gone on. That is a strength—a persistence—that we have come to admired. He is one of the strongest individuals we know and his persistence has blessed us with a sense that one can never give up. For that blessing we have been his constant companions—not to carry him but to be there for him with love and hopefully tenderness.
Number three son, the youngest in the family, was the most athletic of the children, but his gift to us is his easy-going nature and love for us all. Now his siblings would probably tell you that he is just lazy, but they will one day learn that his is a take the moment for what it is and don’t worry about anything else. This is the child who can relax. Where he was gifted physically with athletic talent, he was shorted with dyslexia and works hard to get things done—especially when it comes to school. But he is now on schedule to be the first of the kids to graduate from college next May. Quite an accomplishment that he has done in his own time and at his own pace. We also appreciate that he blessed us with a wonderful girlfriend who is the opposite of him, lots of fun, just as athletic, and the better hiker of the two. For the gift he has blessed us with we have blessed him with the gift of rolling our eyes, encouragement, and lots of laughter and love.
I imagine that the kids will probably say that the order these examples were presented represent a sort of hierarchy that stacks the favorite to the least favorite, but the truth is this is the only way I can remember my kids. This is the order that they appeared in our lives. I love my kids. I love them equally for many, many different reasons. They have each been and continue to be a blessing. If they want to waste their time figuring out which one is mine or the wife’s favorite, well more power to them. It is just a waste of time because I already said—way at the beginning of this blog—that my favorite child lives down the street. She’s a pretty cool kid. What more can I say!