Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My Favorite Things

I am not my mother's favorite child.

I have mixed emotions about typing that sentence. Part of me feels like I'm saying "poor me," (which I'm not) and part of me feels like others don't believe that statement when it's stated so matter-of-factly. Like children don't know.

Oh, we know.

This situation has caused me all sorts of angst growing up (*cough* and sometimes even now *cough*) No one doesn't want to be the favorite. Sibling rivalry sucks. But slowly as I grew up, erm, got older... I noticed that my little brother just had more in common with my mother. They would spend time together in the kitchen cooking new recipes (Emily = not interested) or they would laugh at the same sick (sick sick twisted) jokes. I made my peace with the fact that my mother loved me, and she loved my brother. One wasn't more than the other, it was just a matter of different relationships.

But this post isn't about that. It's not about that at all. It's about how I'm TURNING INTO MY MOTHER! I know this, I've struggled over the inevitability of it, and then last night I had the realization all over again. And this time? This time my angst about what's happening makes the angst growing up seem very very small because, in case you hadn't noticed, I didn't like the whole "playing favorites" thing, and here I am repeating it.*

Casey was my first dog. I love her to death. She's obviously the smartest,
cutest and most talented dog to ever have lived. She's maintained the post of favored dog for about two and a half years now - ever since I got her as a teeny tiny puppy. (You can thank me for the gratuitous cuteness later.) Then again, her competition was Tyson, whom I clearly disliked. Casey could do no wrong. She knows her commands, she's obedient, she's intuitive, she's really really warm to snuggle with, and she loves me above all others. Yep, Casey is a great dog and clearly my favorite. I had no shame about this because, you know, Tyson wasn't ever MY dog. Of course I favored Casey.

Enter Blue.

Blue's personality is as different from Casey's as night is from day. Casey is independent - Blue is a follower. Casey is used to getting her way and is very vocal when things aren't going the way she expects - Blue will sit patiently to see what's going to happen. Casey is defensive and territorial - Blue is welcoming and friendly. Casey is an intelligent problem solver - Blue eats grass until it makes him sick. Casey is used to only eating good treats - Blue is the canine equivalent of a garbage disposal.

On any given walk, I'll scoff at Blue for never taking the initiative at anything. Casey always goes first, and if she's not around, Blue is looking at me to tell him what to do. On any given walk, I'll get frustrated when Blue eats yet another piece of garbage that I have to fish out of his mouth so he doesn't make himself sick. On any given walk, I'll laugh as Casey dives headfirst into the water fountain, and I have to carry Blue in (so he doesn't overheat during the course of the walk.)

But Blue is more loving to Casey's independence. If I sit down, Blue has his head on my lap and is looking at me with love, while Casey's off making sure the house is secure and nothing has changed since her last patrol. I'm hungover on the couch, and it's Blue who lies next to me in comfort. If I'm reading a book with both dogs asleep on the loveseat, I'll inevitably get a visit from Blue's cold nose looking for a pat on the head.

In short, Blue is making an awfully convincing play for favorite.

And, what?! Why? Because he NEEDS me more? Seriously?

I mean, I know that playing favorites sucks. I lived through the angst. And while the dogs won't go through that, what if I have kids some day? If I play favorites with my dogs, I'll do the same with kids, no? I have to nip it in the bud. This has to end. Blue is awesome. Casey is awesom(er). Done.

But Blue's so cute! He's so....cuddly! He's just so loving. He's all "I love you, mom," while Casey's all, "Not NOW, mom. I've got things to do!"

But Casey's so smart! She really is a problem solver. And she's so brave and smart and pretty. Blue drools all over EVERYHING. It's SO gross. And if you take your eyes off of him for a second he'll chew your favorite shoes. Besides, Casey's the first born! She's supposed to be the favorite. Blue's only been around for 6 months max. Casey's got tenure! What is going on here?

My official stance is that I love them both. If I cuddle a bit more with Blue, it's only because he'll let me. If I'm a bit more affectionate with Blue, it's because he needs the reassurance.

Maybe it's not favorite per se. Maybe it's more... well, Blue NEEDS me.

Oh whatever. I'm my mom. Blue is my favorite. Damn. Tell me this is human nature, right? Right? I can't help this, right?

*Note: I want to be clear that I am well aware that having a child is worlds away from having a dog. However, some of the responsibilities are the same, as are some of the emotions - on a much much MUCH smaller scale. One of the perks of having dogs (besides the crating thing :-) is that I can talk about the not-so-politically correct emotions associated with having something be fully dependent on you - like occasionally wanting to run screaming into the night, wishing you had never agreed to this responsibility in the first place, and wanting to throw them out the window - and not be crucified as being a horrible parent.


BSJ said...

Are those not normal emotions for a parent to experience?

alisa said...

Hang on ... did you really just say, "what if I have kids some day?"

Carrie said...

You could have inserted Sydney's name for Casey and Sasha's name for Blue and it would fit exactly with my girls. Sydney was my first and I felt guilty for favoring Sasha and her snuggles a year later. But NOW with a baby, Sydney proves to be sooo awesome. She is protective of Brett and understands we don't have the full attention to give them anymore. She is more "adult". Sasha tries to squirm between us and Brett... it's definitely more challenging!

cgogis said...

Just make sure you only ever have 1 kid and you won't have to worry about it! :)

AnnD said...

First, this: "Casey is an intelligent problem solver - Blue eats grass until it makes him sick." made me laugh out loud. Literally.

Second, I can't imagine you not being the favorite. If Emma is as half as intelligent, well-spoken, introspective and empathetic as you are I will be able to die happy.

Third, you are right about Blue needing you more. It's an older sibling needing less attention than a younger sibling. The older one has more years, more experience, more coping mechanisms, etc...they can be left to their own devices. You have a good instinct and are a good mama to your dogs. You know when one needs you and the other doesn't.

Fourth, see what Alisa wrote! I did a double-take at that too!

I now believe that Cash is a Blue/Tyson hybrid creature.

Candace said...

Yesterday, I sighted your blog in a conversation about this very thing. I have one pet (Mickey) and I proudly call him my favorite. I have 12 nieces and nephews and there certainly favorites among them…but I am ok with that. However, I don’t know if the parents are…they always talk about being fair…I don’t believe in being fair.