Whenever I pull out my mobile phone, my children look over my shoulder to see the photo on the lock screen.
They hope it gives them a clue as to which child I love the most.
It’s an ongoing battle around our house, which of our four daughters is my favorite. They spend a lot of time trying to sift through the data to find out which one’s really our favorite.
It’s an age-old dilemma in any house, going all the way back to the Smothers Brothers’ recurring skit, “Mom always liked you best.”
I make it worse, when I start the sentence, “You know you’re my favorite,” pausing for a moment before finishing with the words 9-year-old, 14-year-old, 15-year-old or 21-year-old.
The photo on my lock screen is one way they try to tell. I’ll change the photo every couple of weeks, but it’s usually of one of my children doing something amusing or amazing.
Most of my non-work photos on my phone camera are of the kids, and sometimes I’ll just think, “That would make a nice lock screen photo.” They’re acutely aware of when it changes and seem to track how long a particular picture remains there.
Similarly, you have to be careful how you display photographs in frames. My wife has several frames with multiple pictures in them. Supposedly the most-loved child is either at the top or the middle of those frames. Whenever the girls visit my wife’s office, they dissect the organization of those snapshots. (I don’t actually display photos of my kids in my workspace. I’d rather be motivated to finish my work, get home and see them in person.)
Apparently the amount of car time we spend with a child matters, too. They notice when we invite one child or another along on a routine errand, and they assume that shows some kind of favoritism. Fun fact: I’ll often invite the child who is irritating my spouse the most to go with me on an errand run, so my wife can get a little time to reset.
Another method is whether a child’s name is part of a shared password in the house. For years, they were convinced my wife loved their oldest sister the most, as her nickname was part of a commonly used password. (Personally, I like to choose hard-to-spell words for computer passwords, so even if people learn it, they may struggle using it.)
Most of those passwords were so old, they were from when there was only one child, who by default had to be the favorite. It’s also amusing, as my daughters have started using a variation of my wife’s name as part of their passwords, so we must know how that favorite game is played from their end.
As any parent will tell you, I don’t love any of my children more or less than any of the rest. There’s a four-way tie for my favorite daughter. I love them exactly the same amount, and I always will.
That doesn’t mean I always like them the same, which is usually in reaction to whatever mean-spirited thing one just said to me.
I think it’s time to put a picture of someone else’s kid on my phone or display the photo that comes with a frame, just to shake things up a bit. That should throw them off a bit.
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David Trinko is editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.