Ouch. My feelings.

We kicked off Monday with two hours of whining, screaming, crying and other associated displays of general discontent. Major complaints included: pants are assholes; so are toothbrushes; the general bullshittery of toast; the absolute necessity of cereal and then subsequent discovery that cereal is, in fact, total and utter bullshit.


Because I am the kind of person who lives for imaginary high-fives from parenting experts, I try to keep my cool and act like a gold-star A+ hippie-type child-haver. I validate feelings (I can see you're very angry about the cereal). I suggest appropriate behaviours (if you want to use your angry voice, please go into your room). I remain firm in my expectations. (I love you, and you need to put on pants).


Until I am repeatedly barraged with the following phrase: I NO WANNA LUB YOU! I NO WANNA LUB YOU SO MUCH!!!


After two hours of tantruming, I came very close to throwing my hands up in the air and heading straight for the jungle where I was quite sure I would discover that malarial mosquitos and komodo dragons would make more pleasant companions than a certain tiny human I know. 


I have a lot of things to say about this: cross-cultural analyses of normative toddler behaviour; techniques that I've learned from our Indonesian nanny that actually work; thoughts on the simultaneous enormity and insignificance of these issues; societal expectations of behaviour and how they shape our responses to shrieking children; explorations of parenting hot buttons, and the reasons we may allow ourselves to be triggered by our kids. But I don't want to write about these things right now. 


Yes, true, the above mentioned carry much more merit and interest than what I really want to talk about. But the thing is, ummm, my kid hurts my feelings.



Back to Monday morning. Remember we were mid-two-hour tantrum? Finally the source of my child's misery became plain: she was pissed not about yoghurt or pants, but because her Papi had to go to work. Because Papi currently holds the position as Number One Parent.  And ouch, there goes my feelings again.


I spent the first 12 or 18 months of my child's life being Number One Human. I gave this kid sustenance, comfort, entertainment, engagement, and lots and lots of love. I soothed her in the middle of the night through a year of hourly wake-ups. I sat with her through the colic months. I carried her on my back because she would accept neither blanket nor bouncy chair. I did every bedtime, gave each bath, changed nearly every diaper, certainly washed each one. In short, I did all the shit work. 


But, and this is a big but, I was her everything and she was mine. I was the one to whom she turned if a strange face or a loud noise upset her equilibrium. I slept next to her, face pressed to face, all night. Every night. She wanted me. I was unequivocally Human Number One. Validation. Reward. Positive feedback for my martyrdom. 



Now when Stella cries at the injustice of being forced to wear pants, or being denied the privilege of pouring milk on the carpet, she cries hard. And long. (Did I mention two hours?? Because. Yeah.) And she cries for Papi.


She screams with delight when she catches a glimpse of him as we pass through the lobby of the hotel. Papi can brush her teeth, successfully put clothes on her body, and get her to use the toilet. Under Papi's care, she'll co-operate in the grocery store, go to sleep without drama, and remain on an even keel.


These days Mr. Chef is able to come up and help with bedtime before returning back to work. I can escape the hazards of teeth-brushing and toddler-dressing while tidying away the dinner dishes. I happily scroll through Facebook while my kid elects her father as bath time companion, bed-time-story reader, song-singer etc., etc., etc.


But it also kind of stings. Okay, mostly when she's angrily shouting I NO WANNA LUB YOU! PAAAAAAAPPPPIIIIII STELLA MISSS PAPI! But also when she tells me, No! Papi do it! 


Sure escaping one more bathroom trip is rad, but I miss the closeness we once had. I miss being her everything. 


I also miss being able to put pants on her without major drama.


I don't know how to conclude this post, really, because it's kind of a mess. But I guess I'm just asking for tales of parental favouritism,  tips, tricks, and strategies, and maybe some gentle back-patting and there-thereing. Or, perhaps if you have any secrets on how to get past that feeling of wanting to punch all of the things when you're on tantrum hour two and nothing makes sense any more (It's time to go now. I NO WANNA GO!!!! Alright we can stay home. MAMA WETS GOOOOOO! Okay, let's put on shoes! I NO WANNA SHOES!!!! Alright, I'll carry you then. I WANT SHOES!!! etc. to infinity.)


Um. Yeah. So. You know. My feelings.

(Although my feelings would be much improved if you gave us a vote. {How's that for manipulative mommy-blogging shenanigans?})

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