"Daddy, am I your favorite?"
Theo asked me this last night, and not for the first time. It's a familiar question for him, one he playfully tends to ask, every other day or so.
Of course, I provided him with my standard answer, particularly since Ashes was sitting in the back of the car. "You're my favorite son," I replied.
"Am I your favorite daughter?" asked Ashes from the back. That's a more difficult question, seeing as I have two daughters and only one son.
But I'm used to answering that one, too. "I love both of my girls equally, Ashes. You know that."
"But if there are two of them and only one of me, does that mean you love your daughters more than your son?" asked Theo.
Ah, now there was a new question. Still, it wasn't all that hard to answer. "No. I love all of my kids, equally."
"That doesn't make any sense," replied Theo, with a smirk on his face. It was almost as if he were waiting for me to answer, that way.
"Because three doesn't going into one evenly. Each piece is only .33333, and that goes on forever and ever. So, you HAVE to love one of us just a little bit more...just point oh oh oh oh oh one percent, to make it whole."
I stopped for a minute, taken aback. Dammit! Why DID Theo have to be doing well in math this year?
Later that night, once I was all alone, I called my father up on the phone. "You're lucky you had four kids," I said testily, the minute he picked up.
"Why's that, Teddy?" he asked.
"Four goes into one evenly," I replied. "It's all .25 for each kid."
Still, is it true? Is love spread evenly that easy to achieve? Does it really work that way? Is there a point oh one in every parent/child relationship, spoken but never uttered?
When I was growing up, I secretly thought that my parents kind of loved my sister Kerrie better. I mean, look at the Exhibit One: our nicknames. I was Ed Skunk, Tommy was Tom Turkey, Laurie was Miss Pigpen. Kerrie? She was called the Princess.
That kind of screams point oh one percent, don't you think? I'm a smelly skunk, she's a frickin princess? I tell you, it's enough to justify a session or two of therapy, at the very least.
As I got older, I came to realize there was more to that oh one than met the eye. Kerrie had been quite sickly as a baby. In fact, at one point, she had pneumonia and became so sick she had to be placed in an oxygen tent. She almost died.
Under that lens, I guess it's kind of understandable that she wasn't stuck with a mean nickname. I mean, Breathless would seem kind of cruel, don't you think? Gaspy wouldn't exactly be that nice, either.
When I was a kid, I didn't get any of that. So, I just up and made up my own nickname for her. She once had a wart, so I called her the warthog. There. Nyah.
Josie and Corb are both the youngest in their families. I think that the youngest kids typically get treated with a little point oh one goodness from parents, for the most part. Certainly I think it's the case with both of them.
Still, even though I was not the youngest, but the oldest, and I had the hard act of my sister Kerrie to compare with, I can easily recall times where I felt a little point oh one in my family circle. Nights where I could stay up a little later than the other kids. Or the piece of baked stuffed shrimp that mom and dad would set aside for me, when they'd prepare special dinners for just the two of them, after we kids had gone to sleep.
Maybe that point oh one is a fluctuating decimal. Maybe it doesn't stay on one child all the time, but moves about like the Golden Snitch in a game of Quidditch. Now you have it, now you don't. That would be perfectly reasonable, I think. For parents, it's a perfect way to spread the wealth...and answer the question, "You always loved him best."
I wonder who will get my point oh one today?