I never wanted to become that grandmother. The one who always says yes to her sweet, funny granddaughter. No matter what she asks. But finds it so easy to say no to the rambunctious grandson who moves too quickly from place to place. Whose energy is exhausting. But exactly as it should be.
I swore never to show favoritism. Because years ago I was the recipient of this behavior. I didn't always know what was happening, but it never felt good.
My grandfather lived with us for 11 long years. During that time he showered my sister with gifts, kind words and protection. She would start a fight, taunting and teasing me, and then sprint across the border to his room, leaving me crying and frustrated on the other side.
It was a complex situation, actually, a Catch 22. Was he not loving me the same because I was not nice to him? Or was I mean to my grandfather because I could sense he didn't like me very much. It took years of therapy to gain some much needed self-confidence, leaving that question unanswered to this very day.
I remember when he passed away. While my family grieved, I felt a twinge of relief. Then, of course, I felt guilty for not feeling sad. Which should have led to more therapy, but by this time I was a young adult and had moved on to my own life, carrying with me the promise to never favor one grandchild over the other.
I felt as if I had achieved this goal until this past Hanukah.
I allowed my husband to purchase an expensive laptop for our granddaughter. Granted, she is older than her brother and needed one for school. But as soon as he took out his credit card, the pressure against my heart became unbearable and I had to walk out of the store to stop the world from spinning.
As much as I couldn't stop my own grandfather, I had no control over my husband. We didn't share the same past. From my stories, he knew how I had been treated, but he couldn't feel my insides shattering as my grandfather hugged my sister, or merely tussled her hair as she passed by him in our hallway.
The fact is, my sister felt bad, too. I know that now. She didn't ask for any special treatment, any more than I craved it. Favoritism isn't easy on anyone.
On Hanukah when my husband gave our granddaughter her gift, tears filled his eyes. Upon seeing her present, our granddaughter began crying. At that moment, I caught my grandson's eye. He was crying, too.
I was 16 again, watching my grandfather hand my sister the keys to her very own car. And that question, the one that lurks in the back of my mind, resurfaced. What about me? This time the voice sounded a great deal my grandson's.
So, when no one was looking, I took that lovable, little boy aside and promised him a laptop of his own in two years. There are a lot of things I say that don't always come to fruition. For whatever reason.
But this is one promise I know I will keep.
Because I was that grandchild.