I read in the Skimm this week that the actor Steve Carrell told Ellen he had a favorite child and I was like, “Wow, good for him.”
Unlike Carrell, I do not have a favorite kid. Much like my extensive shoe collection, each child is perfect under certain conditions. Whether I need practical or pretty or something that just gets the job done, I always have just the right footwear for the occasion. As such, having an extensive selection of children has had its advantages as well.
But my children would wholeheartedly disagree. The oldest three are convinced the baby is the apple of my eye. The older two also suspect their younger sister, the third child, also might be at the top of the family totem pole, because she’s weird like me. The oldest child might also think he’s got a special place in my heart, as my first baby, which leaves Child #2 – our very own Jan Brady – resigned to her supposed lower station in life.
“I know I’m nobody’s favorite,” she’ll say, in that, “I got a rock,” Charlie Brown voice of hers.
The truth is, when I need a shopping or wine drinking partner — not to mention makeup advice — she’s my go-to girl. There’s also no one who can build a fire like that woman. So I don’t know what she’s talking about.
Also, none of this angst actually applies to the fourth child. He is fully confident that my obsession with him, I’ve learned to appreciate grizzly teenagers, guarantees his top spot amongst his older siblings.
Growing up, it was clear that of the eight of us siblings, I was not my mother’s favorite child. That was obviously a younger brother who got to sit next to her in the front seat of our station wagon and accompanied our mom on her weekly Saturday food shopping expeditions while the rest of us were stuck at home watching sports with our father. Woe to the child of the 1970s trapped at home with one TV, 4 siblings and ABCs “Wide World of Sports” as your only viewing option.
Even a couple of years ago, my mother and two of my sisters went to see a concert around Christmastime and stayed overnight in a hotel and when I heard about it, I was like, “Wait. I like music.” Some how I still hadn’t made it to the top of the invite list and even at 50, it hurt.
So I’m aware of what it’s like to feel left out. How it presses those old childhood wounds. Even if you are being crazy and not applying the Four Agreements, DON’T TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY, commandment (so simple and yet … ).
That’s the trouble with having a ton of kids. On the one hand, there’s always someone standing by to be your playmate and on the other, you really need to include everyone to avoid hurt feelings, which complicates everything.
A few years ago, I was at a little shop that had great greeting cards (I LOVE sending cards) and bought four that said, “I’m glad we don’t have to say out loud that you’re the favorite,” and mailed each one off to a child. And they were all pleased with themselves until a few months later when, over dinner one night, they pieced together that each sibling received the card as well.
Even now, it’s a sore subject, evidenced by my older daughter just calling me a “dick” in a text when I asked her to remind me what the card said.
Luckily, I don’t anticipate a “Sophie’s Choice” situation any time soon in my life. I can’t imagine having to chose one child over another. It would be like saying, “Amy, you can only have your Birkenstocks or your Hokas, but not both.”
That would truly be a tragedy.