Daniel prefers Jimmy right now. Jimmy is his playmate of choice, and Daniel grins and runs to greet him when he comes in the door. Daniel’s greeting to me is a bit more aloof: a smile, but he doesn’t run to me and throw himself on me. Truth be told, our relationship is a bit antagonistic right now. Daniel likes to boss me around and tell me to stop talking or not say certain words. He commands me, and I swear, if he could snap his fingers at me, he would. He’s actually quite rude to me. Sometimes, he’ll ask a question, and I’ll reply, and he’ll say, “Mommy! I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to Daddy.”
Daniel and I also argue in the car. He informs me that everything is unacceptable and that I will NOT argue with him. He challenges me on everything. Yesterday he told me:
Mommy, I love you, but I don’t always like you.
Ouch. Although I could honestly say, “ditto.” When I tell people some of the things he says, they wince and tell me it breaks their heart when they hear their kids say that sort of thing. Jimmy looks at me apologetically when Daniel states or demonstrates a preference for him.
The truth is that it doesn’t bother me that much.
First of all, I know that Daniel’s rudeness to me is a sign that he feels safe with me. He doesn’t have to be on his best behavior with me because he knows I love him and won’t leave him. Don’t worry – we do correct him when he says those things. But I understand that he is being developmentally appropriate and that it is giving him a safe way to work through complex emotions. Or at least that’s what the parenting books say 😉
Daniel also went through an extreme mommy phase for around a year that spanned the second half of his second year and first half of his third. I never thought my nerves would chafe to hear “mommy” said over and over in a sing-song voice. It was frustrating to have him literally hanging off of me everywhere I went. Cleaning? Cooking? Sitting? Forget it. He absolutely positively did not want his daddy and would go so far as to tell Jimmy that he didn’t like him and cry upon seeing him. As a result, I had most of the hands-on parenting tasks because he would not tolerate Jimmy. Being your child’s everything sounds great until you experience it. It was a very frustrating time.
So now, I love seeing him run to Jimmy. I love seeing how patient Jimmy is with him and how Daniel responds to him because frankly, Jimmy can talk to him in a way that makes sense to him in a way I cannot. I love that Daniel adores his daddy. I don’t begrudge them any moment they spend together. I want Daniel to have a good relationship with both parents.
Besides, I’m the one Daniel calls out for in the middle of the night when he wakes up from a bad dream 🙂