Saturday, March 29, 2008

Treating the Kids the Same?

As Andrew's graduation is coming up I've been thinking about the ways I am treating his graduation differently than I did Carl's and Evan's.

When Carl graduated we were all very excited. We went to the ceremony. The social workers also went. We went out to a nice restaurant and we gave him a pretty good gift.

Evan did not have a graduation ceremony. He did not have a ceremony at all. He finished high school by taking the last few classes through the alternative high program and was done mid-semester. I imagine there would have been a ceremony sometime during the next year that he could have participated in, but it did not seem all that important to him. The social worker took the family out to a restaurant he chose, more expensive than we would normally take the family too, but not "fancy." We gave him a really nice present, but then it was also his early Christmas present. We did not invite David and we certainly did not invite Carl to any of the celebrations.

Now that Andrew is graduating it feels different. Not the graduation itself. Andrew has a close relationship with all three boys, much closer than they have to each other. He wants everyone to be together. I want everyone to be together.

So I we bought Carl a plane ticket to come for a long weekend.

I also told Andrew that I really, really wanted to take everyone out to this particular restaurant. It is expensive, but fun, and we are likely to spend hours over the food. I've told you about it before, I think. There is cheese fondue, then meats and veggies you grill yourself at the table, then chocolate fondue. It is good, and it is fun. It also takes a couple of hours, and the activity itself provides something to talk about.

Now Andrew would be happy going someplace much less expensive.


I mean you should have seen his poor little face when I told him that he shouldn't expect a graduation present. The ticket for Carl and the meal out added up to a significant amount of money and if he got anything to unwrap it would be very much a token present. He is a good sport and when I said later that he could take my barely-used iPod radio clock since I gave my iPod to his dad who doesn't want it, Andrew said that that could be his graduation present.

So Andrew understands that I am using the occasion of his graduation to do something I very badly want to do: have all five of my boys together at one time doing something fun. It isn't what he asked for. It isn't even what he would have picked. His friends are getting whatever cool things they are getting. He is getting an hand-me-down clock radio and a dinner out with his brothers. He is happy to see Carl, and he knows he will have fun at the restaurant, but he also knows this is what his mother wants, not what he wants.

But I worry that the other boys will feel slighted. I hope they don't feel that my treatment of them was less. I did not take them to a restaurant this expensive. I did, however, buy them actual presents.

So who is slighted? Did Carl and Evan get the short straw because they did not get such a fuss? Or is Andrew being slighted because I am using his special occasion to do what I want? Personally, I think Andrew can make a better case, but who knows what they think.

I find myself often making these sorts of comparisons, and worrying or wondering about how the boys would react. I might have been wiser to have a regular sort of meal out for Andrew along with a present and do the flying Carl in and taking everyone out for some other occasion -- like my birthday.

Of course I only just now thought of that option. It really is much less expensive to do it this way.

Poor Andrew. Totally co-opting his graduation to have the party I want to have.

It is all about me, isn't it?

I've been saving honoraria checks I get from the agency to use for the meal out. I just found one I mislaid that was for the project in December that made me cry. It was significantly higher than the checks normally are. That combined with the honorarium I got for the going to the day of training is going to pay for the meal out! Whoo Hoo! Everyone will have to purchase ordinary beverages that come with free refills. There will be no wine or Italian Sodas, but we are going. Roland agrees. Let the veterinarians and oral surgeons send their bills. If I want to spend my honoraria on a dinner out I can. So there.


  1. That Andrew is some kid. My graduation got co-opted into a family reunion. It turned out to be a great memory for me.

    You always worry about treating the kids in a way that they all know that they are loved. Most good parents I know do that too.

    You've written about it before at holidays, etc It seems like the boys all value each other and are happy to be together.

  2. Due to finances and personality differences my parents couldn't treat us the same...just works out that way sometimes...but I do remember my dad mentioning he could have done more for me (we were poorer during my childhood) I guess all parents worry about it.

    My "quinceanera" party got co-opted into a family reunion as well...had a good time too! My sister didn't get a party but got a better present than I did...again...depending on finances (and well...circumstances and the kid him/herself) sometimes it's really hard to keep things the same.

    I suspect they'll probably be happy to see one another and have fun (BTW, the restaurant sounds like a lot of fun...wish we had something like it around here)


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