All You Need is Hugs

The other day I picked the girls up from daycare. As I walked in, another father appeared to be asking his son for something to no avail but I didn’t pay any attention to it: not judging other parents is an ingrained motto these days.

As usual when one of the twins saw me they came tearing over and threw themselves into my arms for a big hug. This is a regular and very welcome ritual. Then I heard the aforementioned father’s voice. “See? HE gets hugs. Why can’t I get a hug?” Oh. I felt a little sad for him. Then I felt bad as twin number two came tearing over and threw her arms around me. Sure enough his voice came out: “Look! He gets two!”

Then I felt REALLY bad when Lilyana – the girls’ very close friend who was born on the same day as them – threw herself onto me as well. “Oh come on!”

I stayed quiet that time. What could I say? But then it just became farcical when a little boy I’d never seen before decided to join in with the crowd and started hugging me too. I really felt for the guy and quickly looked up at him and said “I don’t even know this one!”

“YOU’RE NOT HELPING!”

While it makes for an amusing story it reminded me that we can’t control our kids’ emotions. And, considering that fi fteen minutes later one of them was yelling at me because I wouldn’t stop at McDonalds, that children’s love can be fickle. We’ve had periods where the girls have had a favourite parent. Even very early on Gypsy was noticeably less affectionate with Mummy, preferring to only cuddle and kiss Daddy. It wasn’t that she didn’t love her mother as she’d ask after her and miss her. She just didn’t express her affection physically with mummy for a while.

Thankfully Mummy was comfortable with that because in fact it’s quite common for children to favour one parent over another. But parents should remember that this sort of favouritism is just a moment in time and prone to whim. They may love the stay-at-home parent until a discipline moment then the ‘worker’ becomes flavour of the minute. Or the one who plays with them all the time is replaced emotionally the minute they have to do something else instead of dancing to hi-5. It’s often hard for us as parents to not feel rejected but we have to remember that they’re young and we, as
older and wiser people, shouldn’t need affi rmation from those that may not even be toilet-trained yet. As a stay-at-home dad with two girls I wondered whether my role at home would work against the twins becoming “daddy’s girls”. Would my constant presence and increased likelihood of disciplinarian make Mummy the ‘fun one’?

But it was a simplistic view of an ever-changing landscape. I generally get more kisses and cuddles but they truly love both of us and are both highly affectionate it. And they’re passionate like their parents so sometimes their emotion is the complete opposite of love. So I may get more hugs and kisses than Mummy but it doesn’t mean all that much because, to be
really frank, if it came down to it both my girls would sell us into slavery if they had to choose between their grandparents and us. They REALLY love grandma and granddad.

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