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my favorite child

The upside to having more than one kid is that when you just can’t stand one of them, you can turn to the other. All you child worshipers: relax. I don’t tell my kids to their faces that their sibling is my preferred child of the week. I merely let my actions imply it.

Tom and I are just coming out of a three-month stretch with Finn that is best summed up by this image:

Munch must have had a five-year old

The figure in the front could be me, but it could also be Finn. Because for three months, he literally could not open his mouth without screaming. Everything I did or said pissed him off. He also started acting up in public, a new phenomenon for which I was wholly unprepared, because I was raised by a true Korean mom, and acting up in public just doesn’t happen with a true Korean mom (I’m apparently a fake Korean mom). The one time that my brother and I got loud in a restaurant, my Mom made us raise our arms straight up in the air and hold them there for ten minutes while she calmly finished her meal. A kid only needs to experience that kind of humiliation once for the lesson to take.

During the three-month stretch in the wilderness with Finn, my younger kid was in the background, doing his best imitation of the Baby Jesus. Born an easy baby, Tate was so low maintenance that I forgot he was there for long stretches of time. He would play with his toys by himself, flip through books in a sunny corner, and regularly update me on the status of his diapers.

easy tate with grandma on his first birthday

The harder Finn got, the more I unintentionally gravitated toward Tate. I’m a human first, a mom second. In retrospect, I imagine Finn picked up on some of it and that it only made him madder. In fact, Finn probably felt the way I feel when he says he wants Daddy to put him to bed, seventeen nights in a row.Β  Or when, at pick up, he greets me with a loving “WHERE’S DADDY??”

But things have a way of evening out, especially with kids. Now, Tate is solidly in his twos and feeling his oats. Last night he climbed on my lap, but instead of giving me the usual slobbery kiss, he curled both his fists in my hair and yanked with alarming vigor. When I said “ouch,” he cracked a feral smile and did it again. He has started announcing that he’s done with dinner by shoving his dishes off the table. And every night, he wears Finn’s ski helmet around the house, just butting his head into things. Last night, I found him helmeted, on top of a chair, banging his beloved plastic sword against my Cynthia Lahti.

not so easy anymore

So of course, it’s Finn’s turn to be awesome. Earlier this week, I left him in the car with a cookie while I ran inside the school to pick up his brother. As I got out of the car, I told Finn to finish the cookie before I returned with Tate, in case Tate got jealous. When Tate and I got to the car, as expected, the cookie was nowhere in sight–until, that is, Finn quietly pulled out a piece he’d saved in the car door, and handed it to Tate. I felt so much love for Finn in that moment that I stood in the car door for two minutes, nuzzling him with kisses and being rewarded with his laughter. I’ll gladly take three months of screaming for a few more moments like that.

February 2012 Park Johnson Child of the Month

Well, maybe like ten of those moments.Β  Anyway, it’s all good. It’s ok that Finn prefers his Dad sometimes, and that I prefer his brother when Finn’s pushing my buttons. Because it all evens out in the end, and there’s plenty of love to go around.

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26 Comments Post a comment
  1. I have a daughter that loves to torture me while my son sits back quietly and says “I love you momma.”

    May 31, 2012
  2. That was the best first sentence I’ve ever read! I had one kid b/c I knew I’d forever be in your position (though it’s a glorious one when they are sweet to each other, and when they are 40 and not under your roof) all the time. Plus, my two brothers and I fought all the time, which is all I can remember about my childhood. And your mom was genius. I may not have had a Korean mom (I’m adopted) but I can aspire to be one. By the way, I’ve turned many of my girlfriends on to your blog. They are loving it.

    February 17, 2012
    • I aspire to be one too!! We should get bumper stickers. I think the thing with my mom is that she never flinched. I never sensed that she was unsure about the way she was parenting. She must have had doubts, but we kids never saw them. I think that’s what separates our generation from our parents, generally. They had less anxiety, more confidence. Maybe it’s because our parents weren’t constantly bombarded with details about how everyone else parents–in blogs, papers, FB, etc. The dialogue is great, but it leads to a lot of second guessing, at least for me. Hmm. Now you’ve got my brain working.

      And thanks for passing me along, Loey!

      February 17, 2012
      • My pleasure. Now you’ve reminded me that I wanted to read the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom!

        February 18, 2012
  3. I had an easy (and blessedly perfect) first child (a girl) and a difficult second child (a boy). Boy repeatedly got on my last nerve up into his teens. (At one point, while on vacation in Washington DC with the children but without their father, I called the father to say “I’m done with the boy.” I guess I thought I could turn him out of the hotel room and he and his father could figure it out.)

    Boy is 16 and better now. And I’m starting to forget the hard times and finally (and fondly) remember the things that make the boy a boy. Like the phase he went through at age 5 where every night after his bath, he would run through the house naked, while strumming his plastic guitar and singing “Here comes the penis.”

    Boy still makes me want to choke him sometimes, but he makes me laugh, too, and that’s worth a lot.

    February 16, 2012
    • Joan, thanks for the morning laugh, although the laughter is a bit tense realizing I may potentially feel this way until they are adults. I keep forgetting about the teenage years!! Sigh.

      February 17, 2012
  4. Grayson Dempsey #

    Whoops, meant to comment on this post and I think I ended up commenting on “The Great Pretenders” instead πŸ™‚ Anyway – love this post. Those moments of sibling love are the very best part of my parenting experience too. Your boys are awesome and so are you. And now I have to go because Vivi is screaming “MORE SYRUP!” from the kitchen table πŸ˜‰ xoxo

    February 16, 2012
    • i think “more syrup” may have been tate’s first two-word phrase. go vivi!

      February 16, 2012
  5. Tera #

    Love it, Yoona. It’s moments like Finn with the cookie that make you realize that you must be doing something right.

    February 16, 2012
    • i know, and those moments floor me, tera. they really do.

      February 16, 2012
  6. Gulgun #

    Lovely, Yoona.

    February 16, 2012
    • thanks gulgun…wonder if you’re going through any of the terrible two stuff with eren…he always seemed such a cherubic baby!

      February 16, 2012
      • Gulgun #

        It is on with Eren! This is why I appreciated your post so much. Max has been our more willful child and I have felt guilty about how much we discipline him and how little we discipline Eren. I worry that Max thinks we prefer his brother. Or worried until last month when Eren suddenly took on a louder, more demanding, and irrational alter ego. I feel your pain!

        February 16, 2012
    • something awesome about it, though, right? little dudes forming their personalities. it’s hard not to laugh at every obnoxious thing tate does, because you can tell he’s trying it on for size and seeing how it fits.

      February 17, 2012
  7. Min #

    Love this, especially the story about your mom. How typically Korean. Glad to see you have not resorted to such tactics (or maybe you have). Though I don’t yet have a kid, I always wonder what strategy I would use – humiliation tinged with physical discomfort or straight up crazy screaming. Your boys are adorable.

    February 16, 2012
    • thanks, they are adorable in waves. i aspire to the level of control my mom had over her kids. the only reason i don’t use humiliation as a parenting tactic is that i realize i would somehow end up being the one humiliated

      February 16, 2012
  8. Jennifer #

    LOVE this post. How true it is….. And how sweet is Finn for saving a piece of the cookie for his brother—that made me smile with tears in my eyes.

    February 16, 2012
    • it’s those moments that keep a mom going, right jennifer? πŸ˜‰

      February 16, 2012
  9. Great one Yoona. Thanks to you, I spit out my coffee reading the Korean mom part. And, I feel normal with the ups and downs. I always love my two (sometimes while seeing red), but I figure it’s a good day if I like at least one as well. πŸ™‚

    February 16, 2012
  10. you have such a way with words, My two boys are younger than yours but as you say there tends to only be one devil child at any one time.

    February 16, 2012
    • we’re only given the crisis we can handle. my personal theory.

      February 16, 2012
      • I like that theory, I’ve got both my boys on my own for the first time this weekend, I suspect Mrs BC’s going to come home to a house in chaos and three very dirty smelly men.

        February 16, 2012
  11. Kathy Rock #

    Sweet post, Yoona. Brought a bit of a tear to my eye.

    February 16, 2012
    • thanks kathy! heard you’re coming to portland soon…

      February 16, 2012
      • Kathy Rock #

        Yes, arriving tomorrow. Can’t wait to see what new tricks Fordo is up to….

        February 16, 2012

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