Monday, February 27, 2012

Fair and Balanced... Parenting.

Even Steven. When you have more than one kid, this automatically becomes something you start thinking about -- a lot. Last fall a book came out that has needled me ever since. I admit, I haven't read it, but this quote by the author has stuck with me, "I like to say that 99 percent of all parents do have a favorite child and the other one percent are lying through their teeth."

After reading that I began looking at my kids, asking myself, "Are you really my favorite child and I just didn't know it until now?" Did I have a favorite but didn't know it? Oh, you just peed on my floor, maybe your sister's my favorite. Oh, you're pitching a fit for no apparent reason, maybe your brother's my favorite... After a rather unhealthy amount of reflection, I can honestly say I don't have a favorite child. But, what if my kids think otherwise?

I try to keep things fair between them. I try to play with them both in equal amounts, and as a result, sometimes I feel like I have a tally chart in my head. 30 minutes reading books to child #2, while child #1 played on her own. 1 hour taking child #1 to a preschool field trip while child #2 suffered it out at drop-off daycare... I often worry that I'm being unfair to one of them or that one of them will grow up thinking I favored their sibling.

My daughter started preschool this fall and the transition was easy on her but very tough on my son, who at two, felt left behind. To make it up to him, I signed him up for Mommy & Me classes at the Little Gym. He adores it and it's a wonderful time just the two of us. But, I know that my daughter sometimes feels left out and wishes she got to go, too. My daughter takes ballet classes at our local, community center. While she's there, I take my little guy downstairs to toddler time. She gets the fun class, but he gets me... My daughter's preschool is doing an outing to see a play in a couple of weeks. It falls right during naptime, so even though it's something I could take little guy to, I'm leaving him at home with my husband, while my daughter and I are ladies who enjoy the arts (in a school auditorium where the artists are elementary school kids, but, hey).

For a while this Fall, when my son was having a hard time feeling left out, I flat out refused to do outings with just one kid. Aside from school, we were a family package. Where one went, we all went. Now that he's handling things better, I'm relaxing that policy a bit, but I still prefer an all-or-nothing approach whenever possible. If we're all together, no one's left out. Next fall, I'll be the mother of two preschoolers and that will become a bit more difficult. But, maybe it'll be easier to fairly divvy up the one-on-one time with each of them.

I guess, I can just hope that by merely being aware of this possible phenomenon, I'll be doing my best to mitigate it and hopefully each of them will grow up and say their mom didn't have a favorite. Or, at the worst, they'll both grow up believing they were my favorite...

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