LOVING YOUR CHILDREN ”EQUALLY” BUT ”DIFFERENTLY”

Just enough salt and just enough pepper!

Now every parent knows that your love for each of your children is equal. You might have a far higher tolerance level for one, more patience with the other, more of an understanding of one and more empathy towards the other. Another thing every parent is aware of, is that every child is convinced that you love the other sibling more than you love them. The only time your children will understand how a mother can love their children “equally”, but “differently”, is when they become parents themselves.

Of course, every parent also knows that you can love the very same child “differently” on any given day (or hour for that matter). Let’s not beat around the bush here. We can feel so much love, so much pride and so much gratitude for one child at 9:00 am, that we are not sure how we got so lucky…we are bursting with pride!! The sky is blue, the grass green, the sun shining and there is a medley of rainbows surrounded by a haze of fairy dust. But something happened/was said/was done between 9:00 am and 9:02 am, and we feel immense rage towards that very same child. The love, the pride, the gratitude….gone….poof….the grass is dry, sky grey and the sun….what sun? That fairy dust has turned into a dust storm, and while you are rubbing your dust filled eyes, you think to yourself what the bloody hell did I do wrong with the upbringing of this child?????? In fact that is when you want to grab hold of that very same bush that we were not beating about, and beat said child!!

Yes…..EVERY parent knows how this seemingly impossible scenario can be a very common occurrence in our daily lives!

I have salt and pepper. Pepper, as pepper is, is spicy, complex and can vary depending on the type of processing used and handling after production. Being my first born, as I have discovered, is very common amongst the majority of first borns, he is sensible, caring, empathetic and supportive ……oh, and diligent….all first borns are diligent!  He also wants lots, lives big and aspires to have the lifestyle of Sir Richard Branson. Totally understands that to have all that he will need to work hard, and is totally prepared to!! He needs to keep busy……..constantly.

This is a very real phobia….even has a name……  ”thaasophobia”…..who would have thought?? It is not a common fear, or a rational one for that matter, but everything would have made more sense to me if I had known this when he was but a tiny tot. I used to feel like his Personal Assistant!! I had to make sure his daily diary was full of things to do, until he put his head on the pillow at night. And even then, as he was about to close his eyes, he would pop up like a Mongoose, and ask, “where are we going now?” This got easier as he got older, and he managed to tend to his fear of boredom himself.

If pepper has tests or exams, he studies, he ONLY studies. He leaves his phone in another room, sees no one, speaks to no one and is just a miserable rotten house guest! He is virtually impossible to live with. You have to levitate above the ground, and if breathing is absolutely necessary, you have to do that very quietly!! If you heaven forbid have to make or receive a phone call, you need to leopard crawl past him to get outside, until you find the correct spot for signal and/or Wifi coverage, and may then proceed to make or receive the call. If you forgot to close every door between you and him in the process, you will hear bang, bang, bang for each door you omitted to close. When he finishes exams, he is so going to regret this unacceptable behavior, I think to myself (quietly). Not going to do anything at the moment as my sweetie darling is being so diligent.  Then the reasoning with salt begins…..

’’Be patient, it’s pepper’s last year in school, things will change next year.’’

Next year……

‘’Be patient, it’s his first year at University, things will change next year.”

Three years later…….

‘’I know it’ hard, but we nearly done.’’

…….poor salt……

Can’t wait for the exams to end, I would be thinking during these times. On conclusion of exams….day ONE, he needs to do this…..do that……be there….. see them….go there, and pretty much keep himself busy one way or another . Our house is bustling with guests, He is in, he is out and he is just totally about!!!  This is the point where I can’t wait for exams or tests to start again!

I can never relax if he is not home. There is always the chance of something happening to him, an even bigger chance that he will lose his phone and/or wallet, and almost a guarantee that keys/remote/chargers will be left somewhere never to be recovered. Also, put 2 sips of alcohol in him, and he transforms from a socially awkward and shy pepper, to a snarky, brave pepper. These are my worries people.

To sum up….life with pepper is a rollercoaster ride in perpetuity.

Then I have salt. Salt, as salt is, is a man of the earth, little wants, little needs……simple….uncomplicated……consistent….. He is just…..well salt I suppose.

Not a very hard worker my salt is, spent 15 years going to school, coming home, placing school bag in ready position for pick up in the morning, and so on and so forth! Not even sure if there were books in that bag. But yet, he managed to pass every year. Knowing this, you can imagine how much harder it was for salt to understand pepper’s, yet to be published, ”Behavioural Guidelines In The Home During  Study Time!!”

Sure there were years of arguments, threats, attempted bribery etc, but salt does what salt wants to do. So, I EVENTUALLY realized that I am not going to manage to change salt into the stark raving lunatic known as pepper. Eventually I reasoned, why in the world would I want to change salt into pepper? Salt is constant if nothing else. How would I have possibly coped with riding 2 roller coasters simultaneously. This is not even a possibility!!!

Don’t misunderstand me….salt is not all he is cracked up to be. Not a picnic to live with either. He is stubborn, difficult (impossible) to reason with etc. But he is just a person who wants to chill, relax and be left alone. No hoards of guests to keep his mind occupied, no late nights out to keep busy. Playstation, YouTube….these are the things salt desires. Stress free…..frustrating and infuriating at times, but for the most part…..stress free!

Salt is warm and funny. There are no hugs like salt hugs. There is nothing as funny as salt funny. And smart…..salt is sharp as a whip! Got a question? Salt’s your man. Salt is hugely attentive….he observes…he remembers…he is salt!!

So obviously, from the above, you can imagine the impossible task of loving both children ‘’the same’’. I suppose one could say that to a large extent, the degree of love at any point is dependent on what my tolerance levels are at that point. Actually, the degree of love is dependent on many variables.

Of course anyone who is not a parent, or any parent who has yet to admit the truth (even to themselves), might be totally outraged by the fact that this ‘’unconditional love’’ a parent has for a child, is in fact ‘’conditional’’. But it is not the love for your child that is conditional, rather the degree of love at any point in time.

So to sum up…..food without salt and pepper would be bland and unappealing. Life without salt and pepper would be bland and unappealing. I love my salt and I love my pepper….just in different degrees at different times!

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