Saturday, November 5, 2011

Playing Favorites

Ever since I heard an NPR interview with Dr. Libby I've wanted to read her book titled The Favorite Child. The part of the interview that stuck with me is when she explained why a child is a favorite and how the favorite child can change in a family. She said that a favorite child is a child that makes the parent feel good. When a child's behavior changes, so can the feeling of favoritism. I certainly can't deny that when I'm going through a difficult time with one of my children I feel more favoritism toward the one who is not giving me a difficult time. Obviously, children (and people, for that matter) change all the time. One month G is super helpful with cleaning and is great at bedtime and doing her homework and the next month she's throwing fits about homework, crying that she needs help, refuses to clean her room, and gets out of bed night after night after being tucked in. Guess what phase we're in right now. One month S has a good attitude and the next she's spitting daggers and fire out her mouth at me--not a "feel good" phase. For a while the baby (toddler/preschool years) was the one who made me feel good because she was so snugly and sweet and cute. But on the other hand, she woke me up in the middle of the night with a wet bed or a nightmare 2-3 nights a week. So, really, my feel good feelings changed, and still change, depending on the time of day or night I'm interacting with my kids. Do you know how difficult it is to hug someone with whom you're angry and frustrated? It never fails, as soon as I show my true feelings and the kids can see I'm upset, they grab me for a hug. They try to hug the anger out of me! At first it just makes me angrier, but almost as quickly I laugh inside at their innocence in their attempt to disarm me. I'm able to speak to them reasonably and more calmly, but I don't show them how mushy they've made me inside. Nothing makes my heart swell with pride than when my kids are getting along with each other and interacting in a friendly, loving manner. At that moment, they're equally my favorites.