The Favorite Child


These are not my kids...

Today is the last day of the first week of school for my daughter. And while it’s been a successful first week, it’s not been without its challenges. Truthfully it’s been an adjustment for all of us. We’d been homeschooling for the last two years and a lot of our family rhythms were built around that. But with changing family dynamics, new opportunities, and a budding social personality, it was clear that, at least for now, it was time for her to head to second grade in a traditional setting.

One morning after dropping her off at school as I was bemoaning how much I’d miss her, my five-year-old son piped up from the back seat.“Not me, Mommy. I’m glad the sister’s at school and not here. Now she can’t bother me anymore.”To be absolutely fair, SHE is not the bothersome one in the relationship. Let’s just say that if there were a competition for little brothers, well… he’d be taking home a trophy. It seems like her very presence flips a switch inside of him, and he instinctively begins acting up, pushing her buttons, and irritating her in every way his little brain can possibly conceive.

 ...and neither are these.


Still I’m sympathetic to him. He’s sandwiched between a talkative, over-achieving, older sister and a loud, demanding baby brother. From his perspective, sometimes it’s just a struggle to survive. And while, my husband and I have done our best to give him the attention he needs, for some reason, he perceives that he is less loved, less important, less significant when sister’s around. To overcome that, he instinctively fights and struggles to one up her.But over this last week, minus the competition, he has blossomed. Suddenly the need to keep up is gone. Getting in the car is no longer a race to see who can buckle in first and walking to the library no longer means stopping every block to referee a fight. In fact, he doesn’t have to fight for my attention at all; he knows he already has it. And amazingly my usually rowdy, troublesome, agitated son has become calm, peaceful, and content.As I watched him this week, I remembered a comment one of our pastors made several months ago. In the middle of a sermon, he casually remarked that each of us is God’s favorite child. At first it puzzled my word-oriented brain. It was so ludicrous, so nonsensical. You can’t say that everybody is the favorite. It just doesn’t work that way.But as I sat there thinking about it, I realized that maybe the significance wasn’t in the linguistic accuracy, but in my perception of being loved. Maybe what I needed to understand was that being God’s favorite child means that He loves me no less than He loves anyone else. It also means that nothing I do can make Him love me any more or any less than He already does.

And suddenly, just like my five-year-old in the absence of an older sister to compete with, I was at peace, calm and content. There was no need to fight, there was no need to agitate, and there was no need to try to get my Father’s attention.

I already had it.

I’m sure that as my son matures and begins to understand our love and God’s love for him, there’ll be less and less rivalry with his sister. In turn, he himself will be able to love her more fully. But until then, I’m just going to enjoy these fleeting years and do my best to make sure that each of my children at least thinks he's the favorite.