First of all, I have to say I am loving the discussion in the comments of my post on what kids should call adults in various situations. So interesting! A little update from our end: yesterday Owen’s daycare teacher showed me that he has learned all of his teachers’ names. He came up with a solution I hadn’t even considered — he calls them only by their last names. I assume this is because they are saying “Ms. Last Name” to him, and he is just skipping the “Ms.” part, but I think it’s a wonderful way to combine familiarity with the beginnings of formality. Cute boy.
Now that Owen has so many words, it’s pretty easy for him to express what he wants (and, perhaps more passionately, what he doesn’t want). We’re constantly working on “using our words” instead of grunts and whining, and to be honest, I think it’s going really well. He’s a natural communicator. But one thing he’s been communicating recently isn’t so nice.
When we came home from daycare last night and had a little time to play before dinner, Owen grabbed my hand and led me over to his play kitchen and said, “Gub!”. (Come). “See-DOW”. (Sit down). “Peh”. (Play). I sat on the floor and we pretended to cook together. Benjamin sat down with us too and almost immediately Owen was pushing him away and shouting, “Nooooo! No! No!”. No Dada.
Unfortunately for Benjamin, this is kind of the norm. When Benjamin kisses me; Owen whines. When Owen brings over a book that he wants to read, he demands, “Moooooommy”, even when I say, “Can Dada read you that book?”. At meals he only wants me to sit next to him and cut his food and give him his cup of milk. I get cuddles and hugs and kisses and pats; Dada gets none. Even when he asks nicely. Thankfully I think this dissipates when I am not around, but when there is a choice, the answer is always Mommy.
Someone is going through a bit of a Mommy phase.
Which shouldn’t be a big deal. Right? I mean, it’s totally normal for kids to choose one parent over the other at different times in their lives. I’m sure there will be days (months? years?) that he chooses Benjamin over me, especially given that he is a boy and there will be guy things that he just won’t want Mom to be a part of.
And, to be honest, Benjamin takes this behavior WAY better than I would. Oh sure, I would play it cool and say, “Ok, go play with Dada” and try to enjoy having the opportunity to do something else, but I’m pretty sure it would sting. Like, a lot. But the truth is, that hasn’t happened yet. It feel like Owen has been going through a Mommy phase since he was born.
On one hand, I love being the chosen parent. It’s undeniable that Owen and I have a special bond. Hopefully we always will. But on the other hand, it’s kind of exhausting. Even when the whole family is together; I’m the one who takes the lion’s share of Owen duties because he wants me to. Usually I want to too, which is good all around, but once in awhile I’d like to be the one checking my email while Owen and Benjamin play blocks together. And, frankly, it makes me feel bad for Benjamin when I see Owen quite literally pushing him away.
We’ve been trying to push back on this behavior a little bit. I’ll say, “Dada can sit with us. Pushing is not ok” and we’ll go from there. Or “Dada can read with us too”. Usually there’s not a big temper tantrum about it, so I’m using it as an opportunity to practice compromise. I don’t want to ignore Owen’s wishes entirely, though, because it’s important to me that he feels heard and understood. I think that is essential to why he is such a great communicator. We listen. Err, we do our best to.
I know some people will probably say that we’re letting Owen “boss us around” or run the show. But I think that letting him make some decisions for himself is a very powerful thing. It shows him that when he expresses himself (with words, appropriately, without temper tantrums), things happen. It’s the same philosophy behind giving him a few choices of what he wants to eat (when it’s practical). Practice making decisions and communicating them. I love the opportunity to let him decide how things will go, whenever possible, because so much of his life is out of his control. It must be tough being bossed around and moved around and talked over all the time by everyone else, so I try to empower him when he expresses his feelings.
Unfortunately in this case they are at the expense of someone else’s. Poor Dada.
I’m sure almost all parents experience this at some point. Right? RIGHT?! Please tell me I’m not alone. How do you react when your kid chooses one parent over another? Does it hurt when you are not “the chosen one” or do you appreciate the time off?