I'm washing dishes. Steven is clearing the table and putting leftovers into a container. It is a riveting opening scene for this blog post. I know, you don't have to tell me.
"Just save enough rice for that amount of sauce to make sense," I say.
"In what?" Steven asks.
"I don't know, that black thing I cooked veggies in."
"There's not even enough to bother using that."
"I don't know, just use a bowl."
"A cereal bowl."
We argue all the time about who is deafer. It's definitely him. I think it's probably more that we only half-listen half of the time. Actually, when I can't hear him it's because he mumbles. Then when I finally figure it out I still say "huh" a few times and he repeats himself a few more times because he hasn't caught on yet that I'm messing with him.
"Huh?" he asks a final time.
I sigh at his obvious deafness and really enunciate "Just - put - it - in - a - bowl." But since I was being what could possibly be interpreted as a smart ass, it probably sounded more like "bowl-a"
"What?" he said, "You have Ebola?" (because he's funny)
"Baby, you're my Ebola," I said. (because I'm funnier)
The romance never dies in the Verwey house.
My kids have all gone through a pretty strict "We only want Mommy" phase. It's cute to a point, but frustrating too. Bloodied knees, stomach flu bellies, bad dreams, wet pants, it was all the same. Daddy would try to step in and help but they would only want Mommy. In the middle of the night, toddlers would scream because I'd leave their little sick, feverish selves in my bed for one moment with Steven while I headed for the kitchen to grab Tylenol, and the daddy who they loved just fine during the day when everything was fine was suddenly just not mommy enough for them and they'd scream until their lungs ached until I got back and pulled them into my lap.
Jordan had a brief phase where she decidedly preferred Daddy. I remember it because it was at the beginning of her first year of nursery school. Every painting, drawing, "craft" and specially hand-made thing she brought home was for Daddy. Not Mommy. Just Daddy. Even if she hopped into the van and happily presented me with something, she always changed her mind when next she saw her father.
And then it stopped. Then for a while she was very snootily opposed to Daddy. No hugs, no kisses, no nothing. Kids are nuts. They are so very cleverly manipulative. I finally put a stop to it one night when I tucked her in and gave her a days-long lecture about not hurting Daddy's feelings.
At this point the older three are pretty neutral. They still seem to come to me with their emotional issues, since Steven is a self-proclaimed robot (you call a guy that once the one time you have an argument after a year of dating and he never forgets. He's cute about it, so it's kind of a running joke), but they're kind of fair with both their love and irritation with their parental figures.
Elliot followed me around like a love-lorn little puppy until a few months ago. Now - she's Daddy's Girl. Not just a little bit. It's pretty obvious that her love for me during the day is basically just as a substitute for the parent she really loves.
At first I was a little hurt. Jealous maybe (of a two year old. I know, it's ridiculous). After all, she's clung to me for years, and followed me around, and tripped me up each and every time I turned around. She's refused me the reprieve of her playing downstairs with her siblings who adored her. She's been all Mommy, Mommy Mommy forever. Let's not even get into the fact that I carried her and delivered her big fat head.
But no. Daddy is her true true love.
I need to let you in on a little confession.
It's kind of awesome.
Imagine standing over a hot stove, cooking chicken marsala and some sort of . . . okay, it's really spaghetti and meat sauce. I'm cooking it. She's running around at my feet. I hear the key in the lock and happily exclaim "Ellie! Daddy's home! Go get him!" and she shrieks and laughs excitedly and races from the kitchen, leaving me with . . . wait for it . . . a room in which I am alone. Think about it. I haven't been alone in almost eight years.
That might be a slight exaggeration. But the huge amount of time I spent not alone kind of drowns out the bliss of those special moments of aloneness I manage to snag from time to time.
At night, when she's been put to bed against her will and is sitting in her room and wailing, guess who she's wailing for? Not me. That's right.
Guess who gets to keep her feet up while Daddy has to get up and actually move around, after bedtime, after he's already put on his comfy pants? Me.
Oh, and it's not for lack of trying to be fair, but if she's screeching for Daddy and Mommy shows up she just yells at me that she wants Daddy. Then I leave, and meet Steven back in the living room and shrug apologetically (with nary a hint of glee in my eye) that I tried.
But my favorite favorite favorite part of my beautiful new Daddy's Girl?
Daddy has to wipe her bum. Mommy just won't do.
If Daddy is home and Elliot goes to the potty, and moments later yells "Will someone wipe my bum," she doesn't really mean someone. She means Daddy. If I appear in the doorway she leans back so her bum is unreachable and say "Not you. Daddy. Daddy wipe my bum." I say ok. I leave. I gloat when I find Steven and say "She wants you. I tried really hard to talk her into letting me, but she just. won't. let. me."
She needs her bum wiped a lot.
Now (and this is the part that makes Steven groan) when we're sitting down to dinner, or to watch a movie, or to play cards, or to read, or to do anything and we hear the little voice singing "Will someone wipe my bum" from the bathroom I take a deep breath, and Steven starts to say no, but it's too late, because I'm already yelling "Do you want Mommy, or Daddy?" and she yells "Daddy" and Daddy groans and I laugh and I keep sitting and Steven gets to go deal with poopoo bum.
So. When your little darling decides (s)he prefers Daddy, don't mope, don't pout. Enjoy your momentarily empty lap, and your un-clung-on legs while you're cooking dinner, and the freedom to tuck them in and actually leave, and for the love of all that is holy, let your darling realize that Daddy would really, really, really really really love to wipe her bum.
Just like Steven loved wiping Ellie's twice during supper tonight.