Let me start off by saying that E. adores her father. She really does. There’s nothing she likes better than Father-Daughter night (any time I have book club, girls’ night out, etc. These are the nights where her infatuation with “Star Wars” was born).
And as I’ve documented, I think DadJovi could be the greatest dad ever.
But, from day 1, E. has always been a momma’s girl. During her first two years of life, it made sense — I was with her almost 24/7. In fact, until she was 14 months old and started daycare, the longest amount of time we spent apart was probably a 4-hour stretch — once or twice.
She’s 4 now, yet I’m still her go-to for everything. It’s a mixed blessing. Yes, it’s a big burden at times, but I also know that she’s a girl. That means someday she’ll be a teen girl. That means some day, all too soon, she’ll hate me. It’s just biology.
So I savor our BFFness and the fact that I’m the first one she runs to, cries for and wants to snuggle next to when she wakes up scared in the middle of night. But it hurts DadJovi. And I know it’s easier said than done, but no matter how many times I tell him that he can’t take her rejections personally, I know that he does.
This week, E. has scorned him in two big ways.
First, we’re battling some big bedtime issues lately. After we finish reading and turn off the lights, she comes out time and time (and sometimes time) again. “I need a drink of water.” “I’m scared of the dark.” “I just needed one more hug and kiss.” (OK, that last one always melts us. Man, she’s good).
Wednesday night, though, she really outdid herself. By 9:45 (almost two hours after we’d left her room) she came out yet again, crying that she wanted me to come lay down with her. I almost caved but I knew it was a bad precedent (wasn’t it President Harrison Ford who said we don’t negotiate with terrorists? Those are words to live by).
So she stormed back to her room, crying the whole way. DadJovi couldn’t stand it anymore, so he went back to offer to lay down with her. When she saw him approaching her room, she slammed the door shut (and I had a sneak peek into our lives in about 11 years). He knocked, and she crelled (that’s a cry/yell): “I WANT MOMMY, NOT YOU.”
I would have given up then. But her persisted. He tried to open her door and she barricaded herself in front of it. At that point, he gave up.
After about 20 minutes, the crying stopped and it got quiet. We finished watching Top Chef, then went back to check on her before we went to bed, as always. DadJovi went first and came back laughing hysterically. He said, “You’ve got to come see this.” Now, I’ve found her in a lot of weird states before — wearing a princess dress and dress-up shoes; surrounded by a dozen books; sleeping with her head on the bed and her body dangling over the side. But this may take the cake.
She was still barricaded against the door. She had curled up like a dog on the small rug in front of her door and fallen asleep. I had to use the door to push her body away from it in order to get into the room.
All because she wanted me, not Daddy, to lay down with her. Piece of work.
But at least that humiliation was private. Today, E. decided to publicly embarrass her father.
Since he was going to a concert tonight, he decided to leave work slightly earlier than usual and pick E. up from school to spend some time with her. I loved it because it would give me a chance to run to the bank and grocery store on my own first.
But then I get a call from him and all I can hear is her crying in the background and an exasperated DadJovi saying, “You’re going to have to come meet me at the school. E. is crying hysterically because I picked her up instead of you and she refuses to leave a corner.”
When she saw it was him, not me, she started crying and ran into a corner to hide behind a stereo. Yes, apparently, our daughter would rather stay at school than leave with her father. I’m beginning to think she’s a little OCD. To her, the routine is, Daddy drives her to school and Mommy picks her up. Anything that deviates from that is apparently grounds for a breakdown.
Eventually her teacher was able to help get her out of the corner and out the door with him. Thankfully, the teacher also babysits for us so she knows us well enough to know he’s not beating her or anything — she’s just throwing a tantrum for no good reason.
I feel so bad for him. He tries so hard. I mean, c’mon, he took her to the Blue Devil’s house for her birthday for crying out loud. They have a BLAST together 95 percent of the time. Sometimes, though, she’s just plain mean to him and rejects him in a way that she’s never done with me.
Any ideas? Do your kids prefer one parent over the other? Is she already conniving enough to know that these types of things would hurt him more than me, or is this just a (hopefully short-lived) phase? Or will this be the basis of future therapy sessions (for him, obviously)?
About an hour after I hit publish on this post, I went in to check on E. And guess how I found her:
This is clearly a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that it’s not just DadJovi — she chose to sleep like this tonight when he’s not here. There were no tears before this; it’s just how she decided to fall asleep. Of course, that’s the bad news — apparently she suddenly hates her bed and prefers a hardwood floor instead. Go figure.