Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Everyone Loves David

My kids hate me lately. This comes as something of a surprise to me since I happen to love them to a stupefying degree and happen to express that love with what I think is impressive frequency. I am constantly hugging them, kissing them, holding their hands, caressing their heads and showering them with all kinds of glowing praise and terms of ridiculous endearment. At pickup time, teachers have overheard me exclaim at the sight of my son, “Is this the face that launched a thousand ships?” It is not uncommon for me to address my daughter as “the light of my life.” And I mean it, too, I am really nuts for these children.

But, as its panning on, this love is pretty unrequited.

Last night Primo got a hold of two M & Ms and I asked if he might want to share one with me, as he often does:

“Um, no,” he replied apologetically, “I am going to give one to my Daddy because I love him more.”

I don’t know where my son got the idea that he had to rate his love for me and his father but he does, all the time. And David is always in the lead. Always

:”Oh, I love you so much Daddy!” he’ll exclaim especially at bedtime, “I love you more than the sky and the moon. When I grow up, I’m going to marry you, Daddy!”

David is always grateful for the attention but he also knows what a petty, jealous, unhinged woman I am, so he’ll laugh nervously and say, “What about Mommy, don’t you love Mommy too?”

“Oh, not as much as I love you Daddy,” responds Primo, positively swooning, “I love Mommy just a little but I love you so much I think my heart is going to explode!”

“Gag,” I snort, like I am 14 again. Then I storm off to pity myself for a while, despite the fact that I fully understand how insane it is to consider my husband a rival in the contest for my children’s hearts. I mean, I love my husband, and I’m glad the kids love him – they should love him, they should be crazy for him, because he’s the crème de la crème of fathers, a totally selfless, patient, loving, attentive, generous man. In fact, I don’t really care if they, in their heart of hearts, love him more than me, but for God’s sake do they have to keep telling me about it, over and over again, in very undiplomatic ways?

“NO MOMMY, YOU CAN”T HUG ME!” Seconda likes to yell if I -- God forbid – feel a maternal surge of love and try to express it. “I WANT MY DADDY! IS DADDY HOME YET? I MISS MY DADDY!”

If I try to dress her or change her diaper or brush her teeth, she screams that she wants her Daddy to do it even if Daddy is not currently in the borough of Brooklyn. If I try to read her books at bedtime, while David is reading to Primo, she will bawl so hard she doesn’t even make sound. When she gets her breath back she shouts, “GO AWAY MOMMY! I WANT MY DAAAAADDDDY!” Finally, last night, I could take no more.

“Fine!” I yelled, “I am never reading you books EVER AGAIN! You can all go with your precious Daddy since you love him so much and I’m leaving!”

The kids were nonplussed, looking at me with blank faces like, “Ok, whatever, sounds great. Now can you stop yelling crazy lady, because our wonderful, flawless pater familias is trying to read us s story.”

Oh, Lear, you were right. Sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.

But then, this morning, my husband let me sleep ‘til 9 and take a hot shower immediately upon waking, which is a luxury I get about 3 times a year. And then, when I was adequately rested, and groomed to my satisfaction, only then did I step into the kitchen to face what was sure to be a long list of problems, conundrums and stand-offs.

But instead, I found a hot pot of coffee and a cheerful son, who exclaimed, “Oh Mommy! You’re awake! This is the moment I have been waiting for!”

And just like that, we’re back in love, all of us, in perfect balance and sweet harmony.