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Monday, May 8, 2017


If you're not an only child, who was the "favorite"? If you asked your siblings, would their answer be the same? If you're the parent of more than one, how would your children - age aside - answer the same question?

Being the first born and a boy - remember this was 1949 - probably gave me some chits, at least to start. Had I been well behaved, my favored status would likely have been further solidified. But with only forty nine months separating us, by the time I was nine, many of the teachers in the grammar school we all attended experienced all four Barton kids in rapid succession. My two sisters and then my brother had only to remain in their seats half the time for those teachers to consider them angels when speaking to my parents. That had to have some impact on the whole favorite thing, don't you think? And, in addition to her good behavior, Barton #2 - my older sister - usually got higher grades than me. I always suspected that after dealing with me, some of those harried teachers were holding their breath when she and then two more Bartons appeared on their class rosters. I can only imagine the collective sigh of relief  reverberating through those school halls as my not-bouncing-off-the-walls siblings followed me.

Still, many years ago, I was stunned to learn - in the only adult conversation I ever recall having about this topic - that my grammar school shenanigans aside (and, honestly, I was a much more difficult adolescent), one of my sisters still held onto the idea that I was my Father's "favorite". Given our human propensity for bonding intensely with some people, does being a parent to more than one child make having a favorite unavoidable? Is it inevitable that at least one child from a multi-child family will perceive one or both parents as having a favorite? Had I been the parent to more than one how would I have navigated this territory? As often is the case, I'm relieved to have never been tested in this domain and grateful, at least today. One less piece of luggage for my daughter to lug around.    


  1. I have five brothers and four sisters. The ten of us were born between 1950 and 1965. My parents didn't have a favorite; they couldn't remember our names.

  2. Checked in with my crew...no reports of feeling anyone is the favorite. Then they asked me to check with my students to see if they think I treat anyone as a favorite. This came about because each of my own children reported seeing their teachers treating certain students with favoritism. Interesting....d

    1. d; Yeah, this is always tricky, right? Favorites are often more overt in classroom settings. Still, for this narrow circumstance, I'm glad I ended up with just one child. I've already got plenty of other stuff to feel guilty about.