Damn Right I Have A Favorite Child

by Rachel Levy Lesser
Originally Published: 
A mother smiling while holding her daughter in her lap

I know it’s not cool or even remotely politically correct in the parenting world to say this, but I have a favorite child. This child of mine listens to me, helps out around the house, has a great attitude about most things and in general is just so much fun to be with. I love hanging out with my favorite child. It’s a joy to parent this one.

The other child is not so much my favorite. The other one does not listen to me, doesn’t really help out around the house, has a crappy attitude about most things and really is not so much fun to be with. I know what you are thinking – I’m a terrible parent. I play favorites. Who does that? My parents never did.

OK, here’s the thing – my favorite child is a different one depending on the week, the day, or even the hour. There is always one of my two children who (for whatever amount of time) is my perfect little angel.

That favorite child of mine finishes homework without me even asking, is ready to go for soccer practice – shin guards on, water bottle filled, one foot out the door and sporting a big smile. My favorite one devours the meal I make for dinner, jumps in and out of the shower later that night, reads quietly in bed, then kisses me goodnight and sometimes even pays me a compliment. I swear that once my favorite child told me my hair looked good – and it was in a ponytail! I almost melted.

The other child is sullen. The non-favorite makes every excuse not to get the homework done, painfully laces up the soccer cleats after being asked for the fifth time, loses the soccer ball and then explains that I was the one who had eyes on it last. Hmm. Really? Non-favorite kid complains about the meal I make for dinner, the same one that said non-favorite kid couldn’t get enough of last week. Asking the non-favorite to take a shower seems like asking a fish to live out of water. Sleep seems to elude the non-favorite child as I get a complete and thorough education on the much later bedtimes of every other child in non-favorite kid’s class.

Then, just as I am about to lose it on my non-fave kid, something happens – a magical transformation of sorts. Non-favorite child wakes up the next morning sporting a huge smile and a positive attitude, and even plants a good morning kiss on my cheek. I hear excitement in this child’s voice about the day ahead, funny stories about friends and family, and enthusiasm about the breakfast on said child’s plate. I’m more than pleasantly surprised.

Until the other child awakens – you know, the favorite one? Seems that one also had some kind of lobotomy overnight – but not in a good way. Yesterday’s favorite has morphed into the new non-favorite. I’m greeted with complaints about the day of the week it is (seems the worst school special is scheduled on Tuesdays), the rainy weather (which I am somehow responsible for) and the lack of breakfast options in our house. It appears that waffles, eggs, cereal, bagels, yogurt and fruit are just not doing it for this one.

I don’t understand what happened. Was there some kind of secret, middle-of-the-night attitude trading meeting scheduled between my two kids? Did one sense that I was about to lose it and the other realize that I was being too nice? There really isn’t any rhyme or reason to it, though, as sometimes the switch happens during the school day or even somewhere in the middle of a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Whatever the case, I am comforted with the even-Steveness of it all. No one is the big winner and no one is the big loser. It all comes out on in the wash, and we are all square and par for the course. I don’t feel guilty for having a favorite because it’s never the same one for too long.

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