Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is He Playing Us?

The kids spent a fun filled day at my mom's on Monday since they were out of school and I had to work. They had actually spent the night before with her and got to enjoy a morning of pajamas and a big breakfast.  It was such a cruddy day that I was glad they didn't have to venture out.  Although she did take them to Sonic for lunch and that was a well received treat!

That evening when Jason picked them up, my mom pulled Jason aside and told her something that Bryce said to her that day.

"I love daddy just a teensy, weensy, bit more than mommy." (and he used his fingers to demonstrate the teensy weensy bit)

Jason told me about it when I got home but before he told me, he said not to get upset.  I didn't but I thought it was kind of funny.  I wasn't going to say anything to him and realize that kids might indeed love one parent more than another at different times and in different situations.

That evening it was my turn to read to Bryce before bed.  I sat down on the bed and we were reading together and he looks at me and says, "Mommy, I love you just a teensy, weensy bit more than Daddy."

Of course I smiled and kissed him, but I told him that he doesn't need to pick favorites or tell us that.  He just smiled and nodded.  I was laughing on the inside.

When I got downstairs, I called my mom right away to tell her.  I got on the phone and told her that Jason had told me what Bryce had said.  She immediately said that she knows how much Bryce was missing me that day and that he loves me a lot too.  I just laughed and told her what he had just said to me.

Then I told her that all I could think of after Bryce told me he loved me more was that scene from the book/movie Prince of Tides where the (terrible) mother brings each of her three kids into her room at a different time and tells them that she loves THEM the most and not to tell their siblings.  In that case, the mom was picture perfect parenting dysfunction and was clearly doing to to try and endear each child to her and somehow alienate them from their siblings.  I know that Bryce doesn't have some ulterior motive in doing that but I just find it amusing like he's trying to play us.

I think it is totally normal for a child to think that he loves one parent more than another.  He might be angry at one or particularly appreciative of one at a different point which might feel like a swell (or reduction) of love.  I know that while I love all three of my kids equally, I love each of them in very different ways and when I'm feeling very connected to one of them I feel that burst of intense love that could easily be misconstrued as loving one more than another.  But as adults you understand that or at least I hope that we all do since I just can't imagine having a favorite child.

One a side note, a year or so ago an associate at work came into my office to ask me something.  She's here from China studying and often asks about my children.  When she came into my office that day she saw a photo of the three of them and asked "Which one was my favorite?"  I was kind of taken aback at the question honestly and told her that I didn't have one.  She insisted that I must have one because in China it is common to have a known favorite child (clearly with the one child rule this changed things, but when she was growing up the rule didn't exist).  I'm not sure whether what she said is actually true in regards to it being a cultural norm to have a vocalized favorite child, but I just marveled at how insensitive it sounds to someone in our culture.  No matter how much I insisted that I did not have a favorite, she still didn't believe me.  Weird.  How would you have responded?


Katie said...

I admit that I have weekly "rankings" in my mind. It's sort of a joke, but sort of the truth too. Weekly "rankings" are based purely on behavior, which changes. I wouldn't say that I could ever have an overall favorite though.

My siblings and I often joked (and still do) about my mother's rankings too. Laura is permanent #1 (oldest child) while Patrick is usually #8 (calls my mom the least). I would never say that my mom's favorite is Laura though. She loves all of her children, for sure and for different reasons, but we still joke about the rankings.

The Asian culture thing doesn't surprise me. I guess it depends on how you measure success with respect to honoring your parents. Is it the child who is most obedient? The child who is academically successful? Financially successful? Or, as in my mother's case, the child who calls home the most? Or is it the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32)? I guess each parent has their own reasons. I would argue that you can have more than one favorite, maybe even 3, or maybe even 8!

Erika said...

I definitely admit to feeling more strongly about one of them at any given time just depending on the situation but I know that's not love - more how much I like them.

I don't recall ever really feeling like my parents favored one of us over another. Although I have joked about the prodigal child with my parents before when my sister has been away for a period of time. I think because I always felt like the "kid that stayed home" (even though I went away to college/grad school) because I've tended to be the one who has stayed in closest touch with my parents, but that could be an eldest child thing too.

Katie said...

Erika-- you are a Laura. :)