Why Mom Liked You Best" was the cover story in last week's Time Magazine. I thought the article wasn't as good as it could have been, but the topic was fascinating.
Acknowledging favoritism is not something most parents do -- not most good parents, anyway. But I think most kids have their suspicions. There were times I thought I was the favorite and other times I thought Amanda was. Accusing your parents of playing favorites is a childhood rite of passage, like suspecting (but not really) that you're secretly adopted.
My parents always denied it, of course. And I don't think I spent much time belaboring the point because I believed their protests; there certainly was no pattern of favoritism toward either one of us. If anything, my family notoriously spends too much energy trying to treat everyone fairly, with scrupulously equivalent gifts, etc. Also, my parents' standard response (that they loved us in different ways, but equal amounts) made sense to me -- after all, I couldn't have picked a favorite parent.
But I have this one great friend who always tells it like it is. So when she admitted to having a favorite child, that threw me for a loop. And then, a few years later, another friend admitted the same thing! I couldn't wait to find out for myself.
The expression "child of my heart" has caught my ear in several of Lee Smith's short stories. I think this speaks to what my friends meant. Parents love all their children, but maybe, somehow, one or another is especially endeared.
Or maybe not. I don't know yet. And when I do, I won't put it in writing.