The first time Missy said she loved me… without me having to withhold food, water or lodgings…was a special day.
You see: Missy loves her mum. I am the runner up for her affection. My wife and Missy share a remarkable bond, a relationship so close, that even though Missy is kind of happy I am there, Mum is essential. I luckily get to spend much more time than a lot of fathers with my daughter, but no matter how much time I spend with her, mum is the one who needs to kiss a “boo-boo” better. Mum is the one who has to change a rank, stinky nappy (OK, so there are some benefits for me), mum is the one who gets a spontaneous kiss, while I am left standing, with puckered lips and a hand-full of melting M&M’s. In our house, Daddy is pretty good, but Mummy is #1.
And you know? I wouldn’t have it any other way. I actually get all misty when I see them together. That’s not to say old Dad couldn’t use a few more cuddles and kisses, but then, when I get them, they are exceptional.
So, Missy wanders over to me one day and looks me up and down in that slightly pitying way. I am all prepared for the usual: Daddy, you need a shave: Daddy, can I play drums on your belly?: Daddy, where’s Mummy? But instead, I get this: “Daddy, I love you SO much”. Good fortune smiled on me as my wife was there to witness it. So with this tender and poignant moment finally sealed between a father and his daughter, in a true gender specific response, I wanted a high-five – as if my footy team just scored. My wife was in tears at the wonder of a small child’s love, and I was left standing, palm raised. OK, to be fair, I’m not that insensitive, and a tear may have squeezed past, as I held up my hand triumphantly.
Toddlers don’t pretend to love, or hate you. When they say things, they mean them. But there is a distinction between the two, in my opinion. Sure, their concept of love and hate is simple; Missy hates me when I wake her up, but she is not (I think) making a final judgment on her view of me. Love, however, is a different proposition. Young children, or Missy at least, don’t glibly throw out that they love you. Otherwise, I would be getting it as much as Mum does. To me, that makes their use of “love” special, and “hate”, a product of their immediate issues.
Children are also the ultimate honest people. This can cause all sorts of embarrassment, such as the time Missy enquired of us as to why that man on the bus was pregnant, but at least you know where you stand.
But Missy loves me SO much, I know, because she told me – and I love her SO very much