Saturday, April 3, 2010
Do you have a favourite?
Last Thursday, we were at a beach party. The weather was bad, too windy to have an outdoor festivity but a few of us did brave the winds to try and enjoy ourselves...
There was good music playing but no one seemed to be listening, two grownups were trying to get more people to the dance floor. And then I heard this vaguely familiar voice, screaming into the microphone, “Come on all of you, come and dance with us...”
I looked around to find my younger one, standing confidently, close to the music system with the microphone in her hands and taking on the self-imposed role of the announcer for the evening.
She wasn’t dancing much but she did get more people to join in and then encouraged them with loud, “Come on move your body” and the louder, “Yes, yes, that’s the way” and some even embarrassing outbursts of, “See all of you, look at my father dancing...he is doing a good job”!
She even pounced on her elder sister, who was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, embarrassed with her sister’s new flamboyant role.
“There is my sister, in orange T-shirt and blue earring. We always fight at home but she really dances well, K chechi come and join the dancing.”
K made a fast exit...
N also tried encouraging me to join in her new ‘role’.
She told me, “Amma, say something, no problem, you can talk what you do at office and home too.”
I was proud of course, but this set me thinking...why is my younger one confident and sure of herself while the elder, who is much more talented of the two, so shy.
Are we the reason, have I been too strict on her and a bit lenient on the younger?
Were our expectations from the elder one, much higher than for the younger? I know it was...
But it was also because we knew her potential, but did it have its negative effect?
I have read that it is perfectly natural to have favourites in the family. A psychiatrist is quoted in Gulf Times, saying, “It is perfectly normal for parents to favour one child or another at one time or another. It’s what they do with that favouritism that can create problems.”
We did not have favourites; we knew both their flaws and strengths and knew how different both were.
I know we devoted more time and attention to the elder for six years and later when the second one came into our life, the attention was divided...and it was done with conscious effort to make the elder one fit in.
Yes, there have been instances when I was strict on the elder since the younger one is so tuned to what the elder does. But have I played favourites?
There is this theory by another psychiatrist that answers most of my doubts, that says, “But even when parents vow to treat their children equally, they soon find that this is just not possible. Every child is different and parents must respond to their unique characteristics appropriately. You shouldn't react to a 3-year-old's tantrums in the same way as you would to a 13-year-old's. You can't deal with aggressive children in the same way as passive children. Even identical twins can't be treated identically. When it comes down to it, every child wants to feel like they're different, not clones of their siblings. The best parents can do is stay aware of any differential treatment they give and try to be as fair as possible.”
Do you go through these moments of soul searching? Do you have a favourite in the family? Or have you ever felt that your brother always got the best deals in the family?