Some people think I play favourites with my two sons. There are certainly valid reasons for this perception.
For instance, I tend to speak to my 7 year-old elder son, L, with a more gentle demeanour, but only because he is such a sensitive boy who can sometimes take things too much to heart.
I also admittedly talk about L a lot more to outsiders – a practice that merely reflects his burgeoning achievements (at school, in sports, even at home), owing to his conscientiousness and general desire to appease those in authority.
However, that external perception cannot be further from the internal truth. Indeed, the truth of the whole matter is: I adore my younger, soon-to-be 5 year-old son, C, like words cannot describe.
Granted, he has a volcanic temper and infuriating stubborness that can drive you up the wall, and make you want to jump over to the other side, madly running away “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest” style.
On the other hand, C boasts such an enormous heart for such a small boy.
If a friend or a cousin trips over while running around silly in a playground, C is usually the only kid who actually stops and show genuine concern about whether the fallen comrade is OK.
Whenever I scold L for being too rough on his younger brother, C would invariably come to L’s defence, telling me that he’s alright and convey the impression that he doesn’t want me to be too harsh on his ‘bro. He would do this even while sporting a huge purple bruise on his forehead – the product of an accidental (or otherwise) head-butt from his much harder-headed brother during a wrestling match.
He also has an amazing sense of humour for someone who won’t be 5 until next month. Just the other day, I said to him: “C, don’t tell mummy I gave you jelly snakes for morning snack, ok?“. His dead-pan reply, but with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, was: “What jelly snakes, daddy?!“.
Sometimes, C can crack me up even when he is on the verge of cracking me up with his trademark stubbornness. For instance, a couple of months ago, he decided that he didn’t like mandarins anymore. Despite many hours of cajoling, threatening and pleading, the boy simply refused to eat mandarins. On the other hand, C can devour oranges as if they are jelly snakes. The only problem for me (and this may well be a function of me being a useless man or a lazy parent, or both) is the hassle of cutting up oranges, whereas mandarins can be easily peeled by hand without creating any mess.
So I recently devised this brilliant idea of peeling a mandarin and then presenting it to his Royal Highness as a ‘small orange’. The first time I did this, he was sceptical but ate it, savouring each and every piece. However, I could tell that C knew it was a mandarin. And he knew that I knew that he knew it was a mandarin. Nevertheless, we played along with the charade, so that he gets to ‘save face’ and I get to tell my wife that I managed to feed the boy some fruit.
That was 2 months ago. And, to this day, C and I play this pretend game whenever I give him a ‘small orange’, each secretly knowing damn well that we’re dealing with a freaking mandarin!
I’m imagining the day when I’m a slurring 80 year-old, being hand-fed a mandarin by my 45 year-old second son C, as he says to me: “Dad, do you remember when I was a kid, you used to feed me mandarins and tell me they were ‘small oranges’?“. To which I would reply: “What mandarins?!“.
Yes, compared to his more compliant older brother, C can be hard to manage and is disproportionately responsible for the rate at which I’m losing my hair. However, he more than compensates for it with his fundamental good nature and a big heart of gold. And whenever I come home to that lovable rogue running to me and giving me a hug with a cheeky smile firmly planted on his face … well, let’s just say I forget why I sometimes get ulcers dealing with him.
Having said all this, I don’t mind people maintaining the perception that I show favouritism for my elder son. I don’t mind it because C, with all his intelligence and street-smarts, knows that I adore him just as much as I adore his brother.
Indeed, I already think that C thinks that I think he’s my favourite. And as long as he thinks that, what do we care what others think?
Keep on pounding.