So I do this thing that I’m pretty sure parenting experts would say is bad.
I have a favorite child. Or at least that’s what I tell my kids.
Sometimes it’s clear that I’m being silly with them. If ThingOne makes a pot of coffee for me, I proclaim, “You’re my favorite!” Or if ThingFive clears my plate after dinner, I’ll hug him and loudly say, “Now, you’re my favorite!” An offer of chocolate always results in my exuberant pronouncement of a new favorite!
Sometimes, though, I’ll just quietly hug a child, kiss his cheek and whisper into his ear, “You are my favorite. Shhhh, don’t tell the others.” And then we share a conspiratorial grin.
The five older children know I tell each of them this. They know I don’t really have a favorite. But I like to think that for those few seconds when I’m hugging a child and whispering in her ear, she feels how special she really is, she believes my love for her is unique and different than my love for her siblings.
Because it’s true. I love my children collectively, of course. But I love them each individually. I love the group dynamics of our family, and I love that they feel a part of this large-ish family. But I work hard to form individual, one-on-one relationships with my children. And I want them to feel individually loved and known.
However, BabyThing, who recently turned six, truly and honestly believes he is the favorite. Once he overheard my secret whispering with ThingFour. After ThingFour walked away, BabyThing whispered, “I heard you tell him that, but I know I really AM the favorite.” And he winked at me. Actually, it was more of a blink with one-half his face scrunched up a little more than the other, but he meant it as a wink.
A few days ago, BabyThing and I were discussing this Favored Child topic. He said to me, “The other kids all think they are the favorite, but I know I am!”
And you know what? I like that he thinks that. I hope that deep-down inside each of the other five also feel that way. I hope each one secretly thinks, “I know I really am the favorite.”
It probably goes against all the rules of good parenting. But I’m going to continue the secret whispers and the loud, silly FavoredChild proclamations. I want each of them to feel special and individually loved.
Do you have a favorite child? A way to make each child feel favored? Or maybe you ARE the favorite child! Tell us how that feels!