You’re All My Favourites


There seems to be an explosion of three-child families in the neighbourhood where I live.  Parents and caregivers crowd the sidewalks with their double strollers, pushed with one hand and a school-aged child attached to the other.  It got me wondering if the saying, “three is the new two” has any truth to it.

Just Google, “three child families” or “thinking about having a third”, and the results are overwhelming.  However, according to both an article in USA Today and Today’s Parent, the trend of three children families is not new but perhaps just more prevalent in certain areas.  Overall, the birth rate hasn’t exactly reflected a staggering jump in family sizes like in the 1950’s where four-child families were the norm.

Nonetheless, at least anecdotally for me, there seems to be truth to the saying.  The number of families that I know with more than two children is well into the double digits and just this past month I have joyfully heard of more families swelling to five.

Having three children is a challenge on many fronts and a blessing on many more.  When I was expecting our third, several well-meaning veterans who head up larger families were abundant with their advice and suggestions.  Two recurring warnings continue to echo in my ears:

  • It’s a lot harder to divide your time into three than two.  Make sure your children get lots of alone time with you.
  • Sibling rivalry is fierce when there are more than two children.  Each is desperate to carve out a niche for them.

While I do make an effort to spend alone time with each of my boys (thanks to a generous and supportive extended family), I know all to well that sibling rivalry is alive and flourishing in this house.

I have turned to a book, which was gifted to me by a mom of three, to help me out.  You’re All My Favourites, by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram (the famed duo behind Guess How Much I Love You).

This fifteen-page story is about three little bears questioning their place in the family.  One little bear is anxious that his parents don’t love him as much because he has no patches (like his siblings), the other little bear thinks that her parents don’t love her as much because she is the only girl and naturally, the youngest feels that his parents don’t love him as much because he is the smallest in the family.

The bears are reassured by their mom and dad that they are all their favourites and that each one of them contributes something special to the formation of their family.

Like many kids books (ahem, Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever and Audrey Penn’s The Kissing Hand), I shed a tear or a two over this story.

It’s a beautiful addition to any children’s library and a thoughtful gift for the family that just had their third baby (and really, what baby stuff do they need?).

 

Great Reads: The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn

The sound of a school bell clanging in the morning means many things to different people.  For a teacher, it is the start of the teaching day.  For a child, it is the start of a learning day.  For a parent it is the start of a chaotic workday – whether that work be inside or outside of the home.

This September the shrill of the school bell symbolized a new beginning for my son.  Together we stood, hand in hand, outside the kindergarten entrance.  His brand new bright red backpack hung from his shoulders.  His blue eyes were wide as he anxiously took in the schoolyard scene: older boys tossing balls against the wall, girls with pigtails and tights twirling colourful skipping ropes.  His little hand gripped mine, ever so tightly.  To be truthful, maybe it was me who was doing the gripping.

I knew that in an instant, when he walked single-file through those heavy double doors, a chapter in our lives had come to an end.  No longer was I the new mother, unsure and without confidence.  No longer was he the little boy who needed to be rocked to sleep in my arms.

My son released his grip on my hand and I leaned down to kiss him goodbye.  I squeezed him and choked back my tears.  I whispered in his ear how much I loved him.  We clung to each other for a moment, each of us gathering the strength to pull away.  Just as he was about to join his new classmates, he held out his small hand, palm facing up.  I knew what he wanted.

Weeks before the start of kindergarten we read The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.  The story is about a little raccoon was nervous to start the first day of school.  His mother kisses the palm of his hand so whenever he is feeling lonely or scared, he can place the palm on his cheek and feel the love of his mother.

I took my son’s hand and kissed it and then extended my palm towards him.  He walked towards the line-up with his hand firmly pressed against his cheek and held it there until he disappeared into the hallways of the school.

I turned and walked away, my hand against my cheek.

This has become our morning ritual and I am very thankful to have come across this book that helped to make the transition to kindergarten a bit easier for both of us.  Is there a book or story that you used with your children to get through a tough time or to teach an insightful lesson?