Gravitational pull

by statia on October 14, 2010

Doug (the hubs, the meester, insert nickname here), asked me a question yesterday.  It’s a question I’ve asked myself so many times. One that I always immediately feel guilty for even thinking:

Hubs: Do you find that because LG is typical, that you gravitate towards her, more than him?

And there it was.   And apparently, I wasn’t alone.   And it’s easy to mistake that to think “do you love your typical child more than your atypical one?”

Of course, the answer is no.   When people say that you love both children equally, this is true.  You find love in your heart.  It gets bigger.   I don’t have to tell parents of multiple children this.  My heart explodes with love and joy for them.

But my answer to him was immediate, and without much thought.   Yes and no.   Yes, because she is easier to communicate with. Even at 17 months old.  She gets it.  She’s also in your face with her wants and needs.   She needs attention like people need air. To compare her to Mia, our Chihuahua is cruel, but accurate.   The minute you start giving attention to Gromit, our lab, she [Mia] is up in your shit faster than you can say the word treat.   The same goes for LG.  If anyone else sits in my lap, be it her brother, or my surrogate children a la the BFF, she pitches a fit, and will try with all of her 17 month old might to push them out of my lap. She is my cuddler.  She is my lovey child.    The Mini isn’t as much of a cuddler.  This is not a spectrum thing.  He loves to be held, and rocked and hugged, and will do so of his own accord, but he is far more independent than she is.    The bigger issue is that while he’s social, he doesn’t understand socialization.  He’ll ask to play, but his asking to play means, sit next to me and watch while I drive a matchbox car back and forth in front of my face.   Now and then, we can play “guys” and Freud and action figure Jesus will play a game of tag (There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, I’m sure), but overall, playing together is still parallel in his world, is what I’m getting at.   It makes it a little more difficult to know his wants and needs when you ask him a question and you get some ridiculous-out-of-left-field answer.

The no part of my answer simply depends on the day.  There are days where she is so far up my ass that if you opened my mouth, you would see her little Pebbles pigtail tickling my tonsils.  She is stubborn, willful, defiant, and difficult.   She will deliberately do the exact opposite of what I told her not to do, and then proceed to come over and say “hug,”  and snuggle up in my lap.   At 17 months, she has working it down to a science.   And as I try to hide both of my amusement and exasperation, I accept the guilt of wanting to sell her to gypsies, or maybe duct taping her to the wall for 15 minutes.  There are days where she gets put into the “I like you less than your brother,today” camp.

Mostly, I think this is just typical parenthood.  We always tend to identify more with one child than the other.  It’s obvious to gravitate towards the child that is more like you, regardless of whether or not they’re typical.   And it’s OK.  It doesn’t mean you love one less than the other.

Unless of course one of them is a serial killer.  Then it’s totally ok to like the other one more.

Well, unless they threaten to kill you if you don’t love them more.  Then, duh, the choice here is obvious.


Veronica October 14, 2010 at 9:37 pm

I used to find Isaac easier than Amy, so it was easy to deal with him. You know? Now, they’re both as annoying and whoever is being less annoying is who I like more in that moment.

I love them both equally, but liking is a whole different matter.

statia October 15, 2010 at 6:43 am

Same here. LG was so much more my loving one, and the cuddler, and let’s face it. If you’re not mobile, there’s a lot less room for trouble, in your limited world. She was all to happy to make me laugh and blow sunshine up my ass, while my toddler/preschooler, was rebelling over the birth of his sister.

Now? I usually don’t like one of them on a daily basis. Like vs. love is such a real thing.

Tommie October 15, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Olivia, my younger, special needs child is needier than her older, typical sister. She always has been.

But they’re both way cuddly and both very much up my butt every second that we’re together, so…what am I saying?

Not sure. Except, I love them the same even if I do probably give Olivia more attention than Alyssa. That comes from Olivia being three, being physically delayed and the fact that at seven, Alyssa’s way more independent and capable of doing for herself.

statia October 15, 2010 at 5:10 pm

And I think at seven, while they still have the capability to be jealous and revert back to “baby” behavior, they’re old enough to understand that babies/toddlers need more attention, and special needs kids need more help and attention. Doesn’t make it easier, though.

lynne October 17, 2010 at 10:57 am

I’ve often wondered about this, having only one child I’ve found he dynamics of two kids in general to be interesting. From an attention giving point of view, we’ve wondered if we had a second child if that child’s needs would have to be ignored sometimes in favor of G because of his disability. Or what if our second child was also autistic and had more severe needs than G, how would we handle that? To your point, we’ve found that G tends to gravitate to us differently at times. Sometimes he’s all about mom, other times he can’t stand me and wants to be with dad. It’s more extreme because he’s a kid, but I think it would be reasonable to assume the same situational gravitation applies to parents too.

statia October 17, 2010 at 7:40 pm

That’s one of a parents biggest worries, I think. When your first child is atypically developing, you’re so freaked out about whether or not it could happen again, and the chances as anyone knows are higher, but at that point, you can’t do anything to change the outcome, so you just have to hope it’ll be OK, you know?

But I will say, LG has done things for the Mini that no amount of therapy could have given him. She has helped him socially in ways that we never could have predicted, and its been awesome.

She’s so much needier than he is, though, and thankfully, he rolls with it.

Amanda October 18, 2010 at 7:58 am

Hey… I lurk around your blog a lot but thought I must comment here.. I have a “normal” 3 year old and a 18 month old with Moebius Syndrome…. it’s very rare and means she has no facial expression and is delayed in everything. She is just now sitting up a little bit on her own. Anyway…. I find myself not loving her more but being much more protective of her. In fact I find that I do gravitate more to her, much to my chagrin. I find it harder to like my crazy 3 year old than my sweet slow Moebius baby. Ya know???

statia October 18, 2010 at 11:54 am

It’s funny how we become protective of the ones that need us most. My parents were pretty much free range when it came to me. I thought it was because they didn’t love me as much. Turns out, they thought I was just able to handle myself better and therefor didn’t need them as much.

It makes me realize that no matter what we are, typical or not, we always need our parents.

That said, I still want to sell my 3.5 year old to gypsies sometimes.

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