I'm so sorry John. It's not you. It's her.
Sprite has been playing favorites lately. Guess who's the favorite?
She whines for me when I leave the room, even though Daddy is there and wants to play with her. If I come into the room while he's changing her diaper, her attention is immediately off him and focused on me and crying for my embrace. He can spend 20 minutes on the floor playing with her and then lose her in a second because she heard my voice or saw me walk by. When she's in his arms, she dives for me and demands, "Up!", even though she was very comfortable with him.
I don't know why this has come about. Clearly, I'm the bad cop in our home. He's the fun one. I'm the one who's more concerned with the clothes on her back than the smile on her face. I'm the one who's more concerned with the fact that she gets the vaccines, not the pain she experiences while getting them. (the pain is a part of life, she'll live, she'll forget about it when the cookie comes)
I'm sure this adulation is fleeting, but I know it hurts John too when she rejects him for me.
My mother used to tell a story (a lot) to embarrass me, and since it relates so well to this one, I will re-tell it for you. (But only once. After that, I'm taking this story out back and burying it. You hear that, Mom? The story is going UNDER. And no map to find it either. HA!)
When I was a HEADSTRONG, CANNOT LISTEN TO MY PARENTS TO SAVE MY LIFE (Mom, I'm telling the story, no help please. And the CAPS come off a little strong.) Anyway, when I was a little girl, I used to idolize my dad. I mean, I thought I would grow up and marry him. This was obviously before I understood the boundaries in a family and comprehended that the mere thought itself would be considered pretty sick these days. Again, I was under 5. Freud had written about this behavior, calling it an Oedipus Complex, so it was pretty much textbook childhood issues, and confirmed most children grow out of it pretty quickly. I recovered on schedule and went on to nurture healthy crushes on David Duchovny and Jonathan Knight of New Kids instead. Mm, David Duchovny...
Sorry. Back to the story which I actually haven't started yet. OK. I was under five years old. I was in day care. Back then, the day care centers didn't have pin numbers. Parents didn't have to walk back to the rooms to pick their child out of the line-up. If someone came in and said they were the parent and the front office either recognized them or thought they looked honest, they would call the child up to the front office and the parent would collect the child. Back then, most people were under the impression that NO ONE but the parent would show up to get a kid, because all kids were brats and if someone really wanted to take the kid on, then more power to them. We've learned since then.) (Omigod, can I freakin' stay on one tangent today? Oy!)
My mom came to get my sister and me one day. My dad usually did this, so when the front office called back for us, my mom could hear my sneakers pounding the floor as I ran up to see...her. "Oh, it's you," I said. For the last time, I was under FIVE! I had expected to see my dad and got my mom instead. (I played favorites. I am a former favorite player, 27 years sober. My anniversary is coming up.) Until a few minutes from now when this story will meet its bitter end, my mother would regale everyone within listening distance with this story of my rejection of her.and how it hurt her feelings, and with every telling, my words to her became snarkier and snarkier (which is difficult for a preschooler to achieve so I have a hard time really believing I meant it, but then you would have had to know me back then to know I was pretty much capable of ANYTHING at that age, so.... it's possible). Until I was married, I didn't catch on that she was mostly using this story for fodder for her guilt trips. Yeah, I've caught on.
Since then, I switched sides on a regular basis, often to suit my greedy kid wants and needs. After I moved out for college, my mom became one of my best friends. I like to call her up just to talk about nothing. (In fact, I'm talking to her right now. She says hi.)
I do see some times when Sprite clearly prefers her daddy to me. When she hears someone whistle, she stops everything and looks around, positive her daddy was the origin of that whistle and her look of hopeful expectation makes me so happy to see how much she loves her father. He has a way of making her laugh until she gets the hiccups. I haven't been able to do that unless it's accidental. I am definitely not the superior parent.
So, John, it's not you. It's definitely her. And maybe, some day, you can tell your own funny story of her refusal of you and use it for a couple of guilt trips of your own.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have work to do. There's a certain story quaking and shivering in the corner that I need to "take care" of.