Non Enfant Gâté

11 12 2009

My daughter informed me that the mom of one of her friends had told her daughters she had a favourite child, and went so far as to name the child.  That prompted my daughter to ask me who was my favourite.  I told her I didn’t have one and it is partially true.  I have favourite aspects of each child, but the worst thought in the world for me is trying to pick one.  I’ve had the nightmare before, presented in various manners and scenes, but ultimately I am left with the ability to protect and save one of my two children.  I’ve never made the choice, not even in my dreams, usually it is then that I awake.  I was an only child so my parents didn’t have the burden of picking one child that they favoured.  But even if they had, I would like to think they, like me, would have blundered in thought and selecting.  I’ve done a bit of reading up on the topic and the internet conclusion seems to be that it is perfectly normal to have a favourite child and it is only abnormal to have a least favourite, which is a positive manner of thinking I suppose, though I still fail to see why it would ever be normal to prefer one over the other and in doing so would that not create a least favourite?

There were times, when my children were much younger, and we were enduring much more difficult struggles than now, that I felt more inclined to defend and protect one over the other.  My youngest was and is, the more resilient of the two girls.  Incidents that bring her to tears are forgotten before the tissues are dry.  My oldest though, she tends to be more like me, analyzing and replaying the hurts on a grand stage in her emotional mind, often having encores for days and months on end.  Because of that, I would try to reassure her more than the younger – but it was never due to having a greater amount of care for her.  It was out of knowing she needed me more at that moment than her sister did.

My worst nightmare is of us going over a bridge and the tire goes out and I lose control of the car.  It crashes through the guardrail and in slow motion I watch the scene as the water below approaches quickly.  I am left to turn and look at my daughters and debate which to free, knowing somehow that I can only grasp one.  I always awaken, so the dream has never played out, but I have tried to do so in my mind.  I always unbuckle the youngest and save the oldest.  I know that my youngest is more fearless, a better swimmer, more agile and lacks the breathing troubles that could prevent my oldest child from surviving on her own.  But is that my own justification for a subconscious preference that I can’t admit, even to myself?  It seems no matter how the choice is prevented, I tend to lean to saving my oldest and leaving my youngest to fend alone.  I don’t love my youngest daughter any less, would mourn her loss just as greatly but I know she is stronger, emotionally and physically and I know that if the situation were posed, she would be able to survive.  It isn’t that my oldest is weak, but she panics, she has health issues that compromise her breathing and if placed in a position to make a leap of faith – I don’t know that she would have the confidence to try it.

I would never share this with my kids though, out of concern they would view it as an assignment of preference.  So as they insist that I must prefer one over the other and I struggle mentally to determine if that is true, whether I conclude otherwise or not, I will always vocalize my equal love for them.

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