by Chris Jones

As a child, everyone realized I was my grandmother’s favorite. There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for me. Didn’t matter what I asked of her, she made sure I had whatever I needed and wanted.

I was my grandmother’s boy, but that didn’t come easy. My relatives picked on me a lot, and I vowed once I had kids, none of my children could declare that I had a favorite.

Fast forward to modern times where wife won’t hesitate to tell me her favorite and in return demands I tell her mine. “I don’t have one,” I say. “I like them all equally and differently.” And it’s true.

This is how it goes with my kids.

My daughter, Olive, gets a lot of my affection and appeals to my silly side. She and I spend a lot of time together, and it’s always a fun—except when it isn’t (3-year-olds like testing their limits). “I love you, Daddy Pig,” she always says, laughing. “I love you too, Peppa,” I reply. We belly laugh. We also sing, “Johny Johny Yes Papa” substituting it out with various things I see her sneaking out of the pantry.

My son, Hayden, is young me all over again—an insatiable appetite for knowledge. So, I like to feed his quest for education and adventure. He likes to go outdoors with me to run, walk, or help around the yard. He enjoys doing math problems on his own or drawing elaborate fight scenes from “Stick Wars Legacy” to which he asks if I want to then “sit on the porch and discuss strategies for better game play.” He’s also the one that rushes into my office after work and asks, “How’s your day going, dad?” or “What are you writing? Did you sell any books today?” He’s my thinker and connector.

With my son, Quincy, its books and astronomy. As a kid, I had NASA aspirations that came crashing back to earth like those old Apollo space capsules. “You need 20/20 vision to become a pilot,” my military uncle once told me. Mission aborted. But I still adored the stars and knew them by name. Quincy does, too. We stargaze on the weekends and identify all of the planets we see, constellations, and talk about space exploration. He wants to be an astronomer, and if I can give him the opportunity to position himself to achieve it, I will.

See. This is why I don’t have a favorite. Each kid is me in one of my various forms. And like Kanye West, I love me some me—just not in an attention-seeking manner. I’ll tell you what though, when the boys ask, and they do, I tell them this: “You know you’re my favorite. Just don’t tell your brother and sister I said that.”