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I Don’t Have a Favorite Child, Just an Easier One

In a neurologically diverse family, it’s tempting to make comparisons. Though my wife and I know that comparing kids is not only counterproductive, but also unfair and unhealthy, we do struggle to figure out the right rewards for our neurotypical daughter when she does exactly the right thing at exactly the right time, without being reminded even once.

It’s after 9pm on a school night, and I’m driving Vivianna around town looking for a PopSocket for her cell phone.

“Dad,” she says, “We really don’t need to keep looking. I probably need to get home and get ready for bed.”

“Let’s just try one more place,” I say.

She recently got her first cell phone, and Laurie and I have both worked hard to get her the right phone and data plan, the best safety controls for an 11-year old girl, and the hippest, cutest case. This last piece, the PopSocket, is not necessary. But I told her I’d get her one, and we’ve been to three places already with no luck finding a fashionable one.

As we’re walking into this last store, Laurie calls and asks what’s taking so long. “I just want to get her one she likes,” I say.

“You’re hilarious,” she says. “I find it hard to believe you’d be driving any of the other kids around like this.”

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I give a little chuckle because I know she’s right. Unlike her sister and two brothers, Vivi has no diagnosed medical issues. She’s easygoing, low-maintenance, and laid back. When she gets the gimmies and I say no, she shrugs her shoulders and says, “Ok!” This catches me off guard because I’m used to pushback or a scene from her siblings.

I love my four kids, and I genuinely love spending time with them. But three of them have attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD), among other diagnoses, so sometimes life is… I guess the best word is complicated. I assume other parents with multiple kids feel the same struggle I do – to remind themselves they don’t have a favorite kid, just an easier one.

So Vivi and I finally find the perfect PopSocket, and as we’re checking out she taps me on the shoulder and points at an ice cream machine. “Baby doll,” I say, “Are you serious?! It’s way too late.”

“Oh right,” she says. “Never mind.” Then she pulls my arm so I lean down and kisses my cheek. “Thanks for the PopSocket, Daddy. I love it.”

[Self-Test: Could Your Child Have ADHD?]

I look over at the ice cream machine, and reconsider buying her a cone. Then I shake my head, as if to wake up from a dream. Snap out of it! I tell myself.

I feel guilty about this until we get home and I relay the story to Laurie. “Oh I get it,” she tells me. “She completes her chores correctly the first time. She does her homework without being told. I have to remind myself she’s capable of being rotten, too.”

“Like what?” I ask.

We both sit in silence for a moment, unable to remember a time she’s talked back or disobeyed us. Just then Vivi comes in to our bedroom. She’s wearing matching, fresh-smelling pajamas, which neither of us told her to put on. And she flashes a smile of sparking white teeth, which neither of us reminded her to brush. “Good night, Mom and Dad,” she says.

“Did you do your homework?”

She pauses for a moment to think. “Um…”

“Why didn’t you do your homework?” I ask.

“Well, we went shopping for the PopSocket…”

“Let me get this straight,” Laurie says. “You were home for three hours this afternoon doing nothing, and you’re going to blame your father who took you shopping?”


“Go to bed. We’ll wake you up early tomorrow and you can do it before school. And you can forget TV tomorrow after school.”

“Ok.” She hangs her head, softly says, “Good night,” and closes our door.

“I feel bad for her,” I say. “Let’s buy her a present.”

“Knock it off,” she says.

[Caught in the Middle: Parenting Children With and Without ADHD]

2 Comments & Reviews

  1. This is so funny. I can totally relate. I too have 4 children and 3 of mine have varying degrees of ADHD. The less severe the ADHD, the more time I tend to spend one on one with them. Not because I love them more but because it’s easier. They just take off the pressure of constantly being “on guard.” Thanks for sharing.

  2. As an n/t, this article had me fuming. One of the parents has aspergers if the kids do. The mom? Laurie?
    That n/t kid is the glue that keeps your family together. That sweet girl is the easygoing one as she has to walk around all the booby traps and emotional screaming crap the siblings do. She is the example to the other kids on how they should act. She has to suffer and not go places and do things as a family because one add or anxiety sibling hates this or that. The whibing sibling who hates pizza. This sister is the one who will hug the others and help them. She will call them later in life and ask how they are doing? They won’t be calling her due to their phone anxiety.
    How dare asperger mom treat her so rudely? An n/t mom would say that sorry dad kept you out to long to do your homework. Let’s wake early with a smile and a good breakfast and I will help you do your homework. Yes, I fight for the n/t’s who have to deal with everyone else’s anxiety. We are the easygoing one who ends up marrying someone with aspergers and we suffer again. OH, those siblings are not there for us then too. Do not make the n/t kid take on all the anxiety of aspi mom and siblings. She does matter. She does deserve accolades for being the wonderful kid that she is. Team n/t.

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