Friday, 22 June 2007

Friday's Child

My daughter is downstairs in the bath. I can hear her giggling as my wife plays with her. The laughter floats up like birdsong. Bang, thump, giggle. Now she’s out of the bath and she’s talking, although I can’t quite hear what she’s saying.

My wife got home late from work and was getting ready to give her a bath, when she said “I want daddy to give me a bath, I love him more than you”. I felt uncomfortable; my wife a little heartbroken. This all started a couple of weeks ago. I’m not sure if it means the balance has shifted too far, or if it’s a natural reaction to the at-home parent. But it is a difficult problem to solve. How can you advise who to love?

It all goes silent. Suddenly the day of swimming, nursery, TV, shopping, collapses in on top of her and she is a crumpled heap on the floor with her thumb in her mouth and a towel round her, wanting to be cradled and cooed to, like a baby. I can imagine my wife holding her and kissing her damp forehead through the comma curls.

Now they’re next door in her bedroom. There’s laughing again and my wife is joking with her and my daughter says “You’re pulling my leg”, which is a useful phrase to know in our house. My wife tries to persuade her to go downstairs and brush her teeth. More giggling. She gives up and tickles her instead.

Tickle.
Giggle.
“Again!”

Tickle.
Giggle.
“Again!”

Eventually they go back down to the bathroom and she brushes her teeth. Then it’s my turn to read stories. She sniffles a little. Earlier she said to me, sniffling, “Daddy, one of my noses (sic) can’t sniff. Look!” I peered forward thinking she was going to sniff in, but instead she blew out through her nose, covering my face in a fine spray of snot.

Now she is in bed, eyes closed, circled by soft toys like a portrait in oil. She usually asks for more milk at this point, but since she is usually asleep by the time I come back, I no longer come back. Tonight she says. “You don’t normally bring the milk, do you daddy?” I grin guiltily and wonder when she started noticing.

33 comments:

Jan said...

She started noticing a long time ago.
Believe me.
My grownup children often come up with stuff I hadn't a clue they'd noticed, let alone remembered ...especially my eldest; his memory, his recollections go back to when he could scarcely talk....
And theyre imbibing sights and sounds, opinions and relationships much earlier than one imagines.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

SAHD, I think you should be given the 'lovely daddy award'. I'm afraid i'm not too good with html so will not be able to craft an icon for your blog, it will just have to remain in your comments box...

ladies and gentlemen, the 'lovely daddy award' goes to 'sahd' (pause for roar of applause, camera cuts to hairy sahd blushing and looking slightly bewildered)...for consistently providing us with lovley posts about his lovely daughter, and other posts about also lovely things...(must get a new speech writer).

I like her being an oil painting, children are beautiful in their sleep, i often stand and gaze in wonder.
Pigx

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Sounds like you'll be having her cold in a few days time. I wouldn't pay too much attention to her wanting you over your wife. Little ones at this age are trying out power plays. The best thing to do is what you're doing -- let your wife have some fun time with her and give yourself a bit of a break.

Kelly said...

Happy days! I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Omega Mum said...

All my children went through phases of prefering one to the other - and still do, on the basis of which one they think might give in to their demands. Don't worry - they love you both.....

Drunk Mummy said...

Haha! That snot-snort really made me laugh (thus replicating the effect you described so well).
I agree with Pig. When they are asleep, you can still see the 'baby' in them - even when they are growing so fast.

Stay at home dad said...

Yes, I'm sure you're right Jan. That must be so nice, re-discovering the past with your children...

Pig, what can I say: how very nice of you to suggest a well-deserved, long-overdue award. And I do look bewildered, often. Children in repose are a very special sight I agree.


Thanks Wakeup... good to know. And yes, I do have the cold. (It was originally my sister's.)

Stay at home dad said...

Yes, happy days Kelly, although you have to nudge yourself to remember that. Warm & fuzzy is good!

OM, good to know. Manipulative swines...

Thank you Dm, and glad to hear it. Yes, that's it isn't it. We all look like babies when we sleep. Only redeeming quality in some of us.

DJ Kirkby said...

Wow this is beautifuly written. your love for your wife and daughter shines through every word.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you DJK - I'll have to tell my wife! Funnily enough I was just leaving a comment over at yours...

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Why do kids do that? No matter how many times I tell Amy to get a tissue she insists of the spray first.
I always find bedtime such a precious time. I just love it when the house is quiet again!

Bel said...

How I do recognize the preferring the sahd-part... It breaks my heart a little every time. Yet my heart heals every night, when I, and I alone, may read the babe a bed time story.
Does your wife have a thing only she takes care of?

Bel

Stay at home dad said...

CJ, it's one of the things children don't like isn't it. Blowing their noses, having their hair brushed, eating square meals...

That's interesting Bel. I suppose it's inevitable. Yes, they at Starbucks now!

Motheratlarge said...

Writing this as daughter and husband at Neros together for their father/daughter bonding time. Fraid to say daughter, only 14 months, already showing signs of what you describe, SAHD. She pushes away whichever parent's out of favour, and buries her head deeper into the favoured one's shoulder. I do find it hurtful when I'm the rejected one. Sounds like you approach these things in a sensitive way.

Stay at home dad said...

It's tricky isn't it, M@L. There are two people in your life with different characteristics and you have to work out how to get the most out of them. It's difficult enough when there is just one partner!

lady macleod said...

a lovely bedtime story.

Omega Mum said...

Pace your comment on Mother at Large, I have come to light my candle and worship.......Just bask. Go on.......

dulwichmum said...

What a lovely family you have, a happy daughter and a lovely daddy. As DJ Kirkby says, your love for your wife and daughter shines through.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you, your ladyship. Nice of you to drop by with your mug of cocoa...

Thanks OM, I take my candles where I can get them.

DM, that's very generous of you to say. I'm very lucky in many ways.

DevonLife said...

Oh yes, the vagaries of who prefers who. You're lucky it's just back and forth between the two of you, in our house there's always relationship interplay going on - between siblings as well as parents.

At the moment the baby girl is stuck to me like a limpet, while big boy was inconsolable when D went off sea fishing the other night. Convinced he was going to drown "and I'll be stuck with you" coughed out through tears.

Middle son of course is ambivalent to both of us. He can take us or leave us.

And of course he is our favourite (at the moment, changes like the TV channel; CBBC...CITV... Cbeebies). Aggh admitting favourites, that really must be up there on the seven deadly parenting sins.

Marianne said...

When I was 19, I worked as an au pair. I had sole responsibility for a 3 year old and a new baby. Quite a responsibility there. Of course there was tension with the parents as to who was the preferred carer. Children will always play the love card, but the winners will always be ... both parents. Au pairs go back to their own countries and are quickly forgotten.

Stay at home dad said...

That sounds very complex, DL. "I'll be stuck with you" is not really apt reward soehow is it?!

You don't often hear about favourites, no, but I'm guessing a lot of parents have them...

Elsie Button said...

your household sounds like it's jam packed with love and fun. your post made me feel all warm and cosy on a crap/cold day.

Working Mum said...

Omigoodness, I am always playing that trick! Wonder when my kids will start noticing that I never come back with the milk! ;-)

carrie said...

I think that practice is universal.

Mine have yet to catch on, though.

Carrie

Stay at home dad said...

Interesting Marianne. Yes au pairs are different to nannies in that sense I suppose. I always find the nanny/au pair dialectic difficult to understand.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you Elsie. I would think no more or less than most households... but we all have our moments!

Are you really, Working Mum? And I thought it was just me!

Nice that there is none of that at yours Carrie; although it is so transparent I'm not sure it ever works as planned...

Kaycie said...

I had flashes of my own little girl with damp blonde hair and her face in her Daddy's shoulder as I read this.

My daughter doesn't let me bathe her anymore but I can still watch her sleep. You never do get over that pretty picture. Even when they're 16.

Stay at home dad said...

Yes Kaycie, a good point: you'll always be able to watch them sleep. Within reason anyway!

Suffolkmum said...

Great post. Great Daddy moments. Both my two have done that thing of preferring one to the other for brief periods; as adults, it's embarassing when you're preferred, mortifying when you're not. I think it's entirely natural for them, though, and just based on what they're feeling that particular second. Loved the snot moment. I love the night garden too, it's addictively surreal.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you SM. I like your point about the preference being fairly random, but I'm not wholly convinced!

Gwen said...

I think that all children love both parents equally but they don't always show it.

Stay at home dad said...

Perhaps they love them equally Gwen, but also love different things about them...