There is no more steadfast a rule among parents of multiple children than declaring to the world that you love all your children equally. It would be like having to pick which Jane Austen novel is your favorite (Persuasion, of course. It should always be Persuasion).
But, at some point in their lives, your children will ask you,”Who is your favorite?” And instead of giving them the time honored reply, “I love you equally,” here is a formula for arriving at a more nuanced answer:
They eat fruit. +10
They eat vegetables. +50
They grudgingly eat one vegetable after trying to hide it on their sibling’s plate. +5
They dramatically pretend to choke on said vegetable and after it comes back out of their mouth they act relieved they didn’t die from eating the vegetable and then declare vegetables are just too dangerous to ever be eaten again. -100
They don’t notice the vegetable you puréed to add to the brownie mix. +0
One child is quiet and good on a long car trip. +25
One child screams and whines on a long car trip. -25
The quiet child breaks their silence to say “I’m the good one, right, Mommy? I’m being good and quiet and he’s being so bad, right?” -20
They tell you you’re the best cook in the world. +100
They tell you you’re the best cook in the world, only the donut store cook is like just a little, tiny bit better. -50
They enjoy making cookies with you. +20
The next morning they notice that the cookie pile has been depleted by 4 cookies. They ask who ate the cookies? They didn’t eat the cookies. Their sibling didn’t eat the cookies. Daddy said he didn’t eat the cookies. Who ate the cookies, Mom??? -10
Your child draws you a picture of your family. +10
You ask what the green blob with red eyes is. She explains it’s you when you won’t let her watch TV. -15
They learn to climb the ladder on the jungle gym which makes you very proud. +20
They learn to climb the ladder on the jungle gym in order to find a place to hoard all the toys they don’t want to share with their sibling. -30
After you’ve carefully tallied up all the numbers, you tell one child, “I love you for as many times as you can double a number.” And for the other child, “I love you as many times as you can triple a number.” For a third child, well, you get the idea.
And when your children look back at you with faces filled with incomprehension, you tell them that this is why math is useful in real life.
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