At the art gallery

Sometimes I feel a real sense of guilt about the amount of time Noah is required to fend for himself while we wrangle Rosie into some sort of clothing or walk her back to her bed 85 times or try to calm her down from the latest mega-colossal-maybe-you-don’t-think-I-mean-it-but-OH-I-DO meltdown about wanting candy before breakfast or the desire to wear a skirt that is currently soaking wet in the washing machine. While we negotiate and wheedle with the Grand Master of Every Stall Tactic Known to Small Children, Noah retires to his room to read his Garfield books, or makes another paper airplane, or gets himself a snack and goes to the porch to play with cars. And though we don’t mean for it to shake out that way as often as it does, whether it’s of the good or the exasperated kind, Rosie wins our attention again.

File this under Things People With More Than One Child Have Said 34321 Times Before, but I never, ever could have guessed what it would feel like to love two children at the same time, my feelings equal in their ferocity but colored with inexplicably different timbres. Like two pieces of art suited best to two different rooms, but both belonging to the same house.

There’s a book the kids love to read at bedtime that tells the story of a mom and two boys, headed out to fish in the lake beside their cabin. It’s a little bit schmaltzy, but dadgum if that mom doesn’t nail it right on the head when after a day of comparing who was best at what and who caught the most fish, her boys ask her separately who she loves the most. To one, she says she loves him the bluest, like the color of a dragon fly at the tip of its wing, the mist of a mountain, the splash of a waterfall, the hush of a whisper. To the other, she says she loves him the reddest, like the color of the sky before it blazes into night, the color of a campfire at the edge of the flame, the swirl of a magic cape, the thunder of a shout.

I don’t think I’d ever be able to say words like that to my kids with a straight face, or without finishing the sentiment up with a good gag like pretending to walk down an imaginary flight of stairs at the foot of their beds.

But it doesn’t mean I don’t think that way.

So here is my kid that I love the bluest. Like the silly band strung around a wrist.

Like the stripes on a monster.

Like the sleeves of a shirt on a boy swelling with happiness at the feeling of a job well done.

2 comments

1 Aunt Rachel { 10.14.11 at 5:19 am }

You’ve got my crying in my cereal. Guess I’m going to be a bit emotional today…
I love those kids. :)

2 Darth { 10.14.11 at 7:25 am }

A recent issue of TIME magazine had its cover article on parental favoritism, and it irritated me by saying flat out that every parent (of more than one child) had a “favorite.” Then the writer went on to say that, of course, every parent denies this, but nevertheless it was true. He then quoted research, but the numbers did not support his thesis of 100% having favorites. Anyway: all I can say is that if I DO have a favorite, I don’t know which one it is. And that is true for my growing-up family where I was a child also: if one of us was a “favorite” I just don’t know which one it was. (Plus: I resent any statement that parades itself as “scientific” when, in fact, it is just a generalization supported by anecdotes.)

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