Do you have a favourite child? I can honestly say that I don’t. My children are different in different ways and I love them both differently and yet still equally. Jelly Baby gets more leniency because she is the littlest and she is less whiny than Bean. Yet Bean gets bought more things, taken more places and I really enjoy spending time with just her.
Many parents will tell you the same – they don’t have a favourite child, that it is not possible to have a favourite. Yet I know that it is possible – because I am in the unfortunate position of being the second favourite child.
My brother is 3 years younger than me and my mother has for as long as I can remember favoured him. My parents split up not long after he was born and I was very clearly my father’s favourite. My brother was chubby and not particularly academic, my father was harsh with him. BUT we saw my father once a year, maybe twice so this was not something that affected our everyday lives. My father was strict and not particularly nice to either of us, he would smack us (and smack us hard). Well I should correct that – he would smack me – because my mother would never let him smack my brother. I remember her screaming and pulling my brother away from him, but with me she would just go into another room. Looking back I didn’t particularly care that I was being smacked, it was the difference in treatment between my brother and I that hurt.
This was just one of many examples. My brother got away with blue murder as he got older, he even dropped out of his A levels, took drugs and went a little wild. And yet I was the one labelled ‘difficult’. Really it couldn’t have been further from the truth. My mother will criticise me to the end of the world and back but my brother could do no wrong.
By the time I had reached my teens I had come to an acceptance of the situation. Things were just how they were. When I had major spinal surgery for Scoliosis at 13 and my mother left me in the hospital on my own – because my brother would have been upset without her – I wasn’t surprised. I was sad, of course I was. I was in massive pain and couldn’t move. A nurse had to feed me breakfast before my mother came from dropping my brother at school. But this was what I was used to.
My brother and I fell out long ago, just after Bean was born. I realised that he had turned into what my mother had made him – spoilt, arrogant and ultimately stupid. He was argumentative, mean and spiteful. He thought that he deserved anything he wanted and took no notice of anyone else’s feelings. I didn’t want my family, my new baby, being brought up around such negativity. The last time I saw him we went out for lunch (which my mum had given him money to pay for us all) and he used it to pay for his half, and we paid our half, unbeknownst to the fact that he had pocketed what mum had given him for us. Mum just thought that was funny. Hardly, just another example of the fact that he thought he had a god given right to everything. He criticised me for boiling the water for Bean’s bottle (she was 3 months old) as I was being ‘neurotic’ and doing everything ‘by the book’. He refused to hold his baby niece. That is his loss as that was the last time he saw her. I hope he regrets that forever, although I know that he probably doesn’t even think twice about it.
Now he lives in Australia and mum lives with us. She can’t afford to live on her own so we bought a house with room for her. She effectively mourns for the loss of my brother every day, even though she visits once a year. I run her around to work, to doctor’s appointments, I cook her dinner every day and I do all the housework – she is like an extra child to me. Granted, she will babysit, but only if I put the children to bed first, so it’s not really babysitting – she just has the baby monitor in her room.
So now, the favouritism gets to me. With everything I do for her my inner child cries “why doesn’t she love me as much” what did I ever do to be second best? It is definitely true that the way she has been has shaped my life. I definitely don’t think that blood is thicker than water. I know that I have a bad relationship with my brother because of my mother’s favouritism and I know that I want a big happy family of my own probably to compensate in some way for what I missed out on as a child.
I argued with my mother yesterday. Jelly Baby needs to have her 2nd MMR jab early because of the local epidemic and I asked her to look after Bean and take her to swimming while I went to the clinic. No, she can’t because she is going to Skype my brother. Of course she couldn’t do it half an hour earlier, she wouldn’t want to inconvenience him.
Our family was doomed from the moment she picked a favourite child. Siblings can never get on when there is bitterness and comparisons. The relationship between a mother (or father) and the child that is second best will never recover. The whole family is damaged and fractured. I’m not sure if you can help having a favourite child, but if you are reading this and you do, please please try, for the sake of your whole family, not just the second favourite.