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Dad Daze: Playing favorites is not the way of the Condrans

UPDATED: Sun., Sept. 26, 2021

“Set the tone” was the mantra of Butch, my son Milo’s first ice hockey coach. Milo took the motto to heart during his early years under Butch. After Milo scored the first goal in four of seven games, my friend Capri said, “No wonder Milo is your favorite kid.”

I laughed at Capri and said, “Milo’s not my favorite, but he can be. I tell all of my children the same thing, which is that my favorite child chart is like college football’s BCS (Bowl Championship Series) standings. You can always rise in the ranks!”

It was a joke, and it scored some laughs. But I see how it appears that Milo is my favorite since I’ve spent more time with him than my other children since he has always required more heavy lifting.

With four children, parents have to divide and hopefully conquer. It was always Mom has the girls and Dad has the boys since we have the gender split. My daughters’ extracurricular activities have always been close to home. However, my boys have played and showcased all over the country.

Some of my favorite memories with Milo were in Austin, Texas, for a baseball tournament and Tampa, Florida, for an ice hockey tournament. Part of the reason why Milo has experienced 49 states by the time he reached 15 is due to sports.

It’s not that I’ve only been Milo’s chauffeur. Sometimes, I’ve driven Eddie, and another parent, often the aforementioned Capri, was responsible for Milo.

But that’s just one sport, ice hockey. Many of Milo’s peers are devoted to a single sport for the entire year. However, Milo somehow once played ice hockey, football and baseball during a fall season. I would joke about how he has to drop out of school to keep his athletic focus.

Yes, I’ve heard that it’s too much for Milo, but I’m a firm believer in that the busier you are, the more you accomplish. I’m not a fan of idle time. Whenever it became too much for Milo, his schedule was altered.

For a kid who has always been demanding, it’s been remarkably easy getting along with Milo. I always wondered if it has anything to do with the fact that we’re born within a 13-hour interval, and we’re true Geminis. For some reason, I know what he’ll do next, and we both enjoy being on the go.

However, it doesn’t mean Milo’s my favorite. No one is my favorite. I grew up that way. I’m sibling-less, so far, and my father once told me that I wasn’t the favorite.

Each of my four children brings something special to the table. Yes, Jillian, 22, is the typical first born. Jillian is a responsible, organized achiever. But she has a refreshingly quirky sense of humor and is the most emotional of the kids. I’ll never forget how she eased the pain when my parents passed away. Hours after graduating high school, her friends gathered in a circle at a party singing songs. Jillian lost it and clung to me like a barnacle during Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.”

“Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’ / Cause I’ve built my life around you / But time makes you bolder / Children get older. And I’m getting older too.” Eddie, 19, can be as covert as a CIA agent. The strong, silent type is athletic, artistic and altruistic. Eddie is a heck of a pitcher, and he impresses me by how much he loves and looks out for his little brother.

Milo, 16, is the provocateur. My most confident kid is always stirring it up, and I’ve never met anyone who believes in himself as much my younger son. “You were hedging your bets when you had four kids,” Milo said just before the pandemic arrived. “You know one of your kids is going to make it big, and it’s not the other three.” Milo, who meant every word about his future success, is often joking, but what impresses me most recently is how much he cares for his siblings, particularly his little sister.

It hasn’t always been easy for Jane, 12, being the last in line, but she isn’t trying to follow in her siblings’ footsteps. Jane writes plays, acts and loves playing basketball, which is quite different from her brothers and sister’s pursuits.

There have been issues, but they’ve all been minor. I’ve been blessed with a great group of kids, and I try to let them know they’re different but equal. Parental favoritism can cause damage and carry right over to adulthood. I might joke about who is my favorite, but each of the Condran kids are on the same level.

However, my pal, Capri, reminded me of an almost-forgotten ice hockey party memory. “Eddie and Milo walked in, and Eddie had a shirt with a four on his back and Milo had a shirt with a one, and I remember laughing and thinking, ‘Oh my God, Ed really does rank his children!”

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