Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Playing favorites

My mother did a wonderful job putting together the Thanksgiving dinner last week. We had a huge turkey, surrounded by bowls full of squash, potatoes, corn, peas, and glazed carrots. There was plenty of stuffing and cranberry sauce to go around, and all kinds of bread to mop up the juices. Everything was simply delicious. But it was not good enough for Kyle.

Even before the dinner, my mother made sure we were all comfortable. We ate mini hot dogs wrapped in bacon (a must in a family of boys), chips and nuts. My mother even stocked the fridge with drinks, including the essential holiday egg nog. But it was not good enough for Kyle.

We continued to feast after dinner. My mom made a pumpkin pie and cookies. She also offered us a store-bought apple pie and ice cream or whipped cream to go with any dessert. We ate until our stomachs nearly exploded. But it was not good enough for Kyle.

I don't know what my mother did to deserve this. Kyle would refuse her food. He would resist her hugs and kisses. He would turn away her offers to read to him. He would accept her gifts, but only with a receipt. My mother seemed to try everything to win over our son's affection, but nothing worked.

My dad, on the other hand, received the affection my mom was seeking without having to do anything. As soon as he would walk into a room, Kyle would walk toward him and hug his legs. My dad could be wearing chainsaws on his legs and Kyle would still gravitate to him. Actually, that's not really a good example, since Kyle is attracted to all things dangerous. Maybe I should have said that my could be wearing fresh vegetables on his legs and Kyle would still gravitate to him. My dad has that kind of appeal right now.

My dad and Kyle do have a lot of fun together, but this kind of favoritism is not encouraged. At one point during the weekend, my mom tried reading our son a book. Kyle resisted any attempt by her to get him to sit on his lap. The little guy seemed content just sitting on the floor and playing with his toys. After a few unsuccessful efforts, my mom gave up and then left the room to check on dinner. Shortly afterwards, Kyle grabbed a book and then walked to my father to have him read it. My dad obviously felt bad about this, and he tried to turn Kyle away by making the reading as unexciting as possible, through techniques like reading in monotone and turning all the main characters into accountants. He would then try to convince Kyle that my mom was doing something exciting and he should check it out. Our son would have none of that. He just wanted my dad to read. My dad could have had a dictionary in his hands and Kyle would have listened intently.

This is no surprise, really. We had heard that playing favorites is part of a child's development. With us, the popular parent is always the one who is the least able to spend time with the little guy. I could have a billion toys and Kyle's favorite books surrounding me, ready to spend a whole afternoon of fun, but if Jennifer enters the room wearing roller skates and carrying a stack of boxes six feet high, Kyle will ignore me and demand that Jennifer pick him up. We would not last very long in one of those James Bond/MacGyver-type action adventures, as the person diffusing the bomb would have to do it one-handed, since Kyle would insist that that person hold him so he could watch.

This incident with my parents, though, is the first time we noticed that he has consistently chosen one person over another. My mom says she's used to it, since apparently my brother and I did the same thing when we were younger (I don't remember that - I just remember my dad doing a lot of cool stuff). I'm sure it won't be the last time Kyle plays favorites... and there's a good chance he will later choose my mom over my dad. Our son will have to be careful, though. Once my mom has him, you can be sure she won't let him go.

1 comment:

Little Apple said...

Jennifer could probably pull off the roller skates and boxes. Didn't she spend time at Sonic?