Mommy or Daddy? A Child’s Dilemma

Who should I scream bloody murder for, mommy or daddy? Last night was one of those exhausting nights that rapidly devolve into a sleep-deprived day. It was around my 17th cup of coffee and 3 p.m. that I finally managed to squeak out my first coherent thought of the day—never mind the fact that I had been at work since 8 a.m. Regardless, it was the toddler and not the newborn testing our patience and draining our energy tanks with random fits of crying at midnight, 1:30, and 3:00 in the morning. This is very unlike Eliza, a typically dependable sleeper, but I’m not writing this to dissect her sleep habits so I’ll move on. Even immersed in a foggy stupor, I couldn’t help but be impressed with my daughter’s easeful transition back and forth from “MOMMY!” to “DADDY!” as she wailed in the next room. She tried different inflections, different commands, and naturally tried to poke at each of our sensitivities. She seems to sense when Mommy is the best option and when Daddy might be the better ask. The little rugrat has quite the intelligence; her attempts at midnight manipulation got me thinking about where she turns to when attention to her is required.


TIME TO YELL FOR DADDY: Late Night Cuddles

I blame it on my deep sleeping and complete inability to function mentally in the middle of the night, but my daughter knows the only way she’s landing in Mommy and Daddy’s bed is to plead her case to me. I’m an absolute sucker for midnight cuddles and a whimpering daughter begging for my shoulder to lay on.


So one thing I’m not great at is showing sympathy for all the tiny spills and knocks little kids tend to accumulate. I opt for the ‘toughen up’ way of dealing with accident tears, but my wife dives in with an EMT kit and 911 on standby should my daughter ever stub her toe.


Baths from my wife tend to be focused on the boring sides of a tub plunge—you know, like cleaning and washing. When I lead the daughter brigade into the bathroom, we’re coming out a soaking mess with a tub loaded full of toys after more soap found the walls than their little bodies.


I really wouldn’t classify myself as not sentimental, but I have found that I’m somewhat unemotional during the random firsts that pop up during childhood. When Eliza cried at the thought of her first haircut, I rolled my eyes. First time in the pool? Quit being a ninny! My wife, however, does an incredible job of not only showing sympathy for the newness of the experience, but also making it a memorable moment.

TIME TO YELL FOR DADDY: Inappropriate remarks!

Whether it’s bathroom humor or something completely inappropriate for a toddler to say, I cannot suppress giggles as it gets mispronounced from my daughter’s mouth. Mommy, on the other hand, nips the naughty expressions right at the first moment. I usually flip on the camera and try to capture it…and then explain how she shouldn’t say that.


My wife is all about frequent eating and having snacks on hand all day. I, however, will nonchalantly tell my toddler she can wait another 7 hours before dinner when she’s requesting food. Oops. Mommy runs on snacks all day and Eliza knows she’s the ticket to some afternoon berries, not daddy.

TIME TO YELL FOR DADDY: Living Room Tumbles

Sometimes the toddler wants to get rough, but she knows wrestling with mommy often ends in a timeout or an angered mother. Daddy is the request she’s learned to screech when she wants to roll around the living room with fists and heels flailing. The downside, of course, is that incidental injuries incurred by the toddler will quickly require her to shift parents to mommy for any sympathy.


We easily have 300+ kids books in our house, yet somehow my daughter is only capable of fixating on 2 of them at a time for multi-week stretches. I LOVE to read to my daughter, but I usually try to con her into reading a variety of books. I’ll throw in the towel if I get stuck reading the same 6 pages of Thomas the Train for 40 minutes solid. My wife does not share this preference and willingly will read Baby Beluga 1100 consecutive times with a twinkle in her eye.


That’s the list for now, but I can see how several more items will work their way in…

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