Betrayed by mine own kin!

You spend twenty months building a bond with your child – changing her nappy, cleaning up her sick, giving her cuddles all through the night, and letting her wipe her runny nose on your shirt – and you expect a certain amount of loyalty in return. You know, the way a dog follows you because you feed it or a cat because you let it sleep on your lap. At the very least, you assume there has developed between you a modicum of trust.

Don’t be fooled. Toddlers cannot be trusted.

Yesterday morning, my daughter wanted a gingerbread biscuit that she could see on the counter in the kitchen. I knew mummy wouldn’t approve, because it was just after breakfast, but little Izzie smiled at me, pointed and said, ‘Bease,’ in her adorably cute childish fashion, so how could I resist?

There was one proviso, however – as I placed it into her outstretched fingers, I whispered to her, ‘Shh, don’t tell mummy, it’s our secret. You’ll get daddy in trouble. Okay?’

She nodded emphatically. Yes. Our secret.

I have no doubt she understood.

The moment my fingers released the biscuit, she ran into the lounge waving it in the air and shouting, ‘Mummy, mummy!’ Look what I’ve got, mummy.

‘How did you get that?’ mummy asked.

Beaming from ear to ear, my daughter pointed right at me. ‘Daddy,’ she said, sat down and ate it.

Disloyal little bastard.

This morning her mummy gave her a piece of iced doughnut to eat. ‘Ooh,’ I said, kneeling before my daughter. ‘Can daddy have some?’

She shook her  head violently. ‘No.’

‘Please?’

‘No.’ And she crammed the entire piece into her mouth, so much she couldn’t even close her lips, just so I couldn’t have it.

Disloyal little bastard.

In fact, ‘no’ has become her favourite word, particularly when she knows how much hurt it can cause.

‘Can daddy have a kiss?’

‘No.’

‘Do you love daddy?’

‘No.’

Those times she does deign to allow me to kiss her, she turns her head and points to her cheek as if to say, ‘Oh, go on then, kiss my cheek if you must, peasant, then go refill my water bottle.’

Actually, it’s her second favourite word, the favourite being, ‘mummy.’ When she gets her own way, you see, it tends to involve mummy, so she figures that if she calls everyone mummy, she’s far more likely to get what she wants.

I’d develop a complex if I wasn’t so sure of my sex. Today, for example, my wife is out, but that hasn’t prevented the name ‘mummy’ being mentioned around a thousand times, mostly screamed at me because I won’t give the little one a biscuit. All day, ‘mummy, mummy, mummy, mummy.’ Not one ‘daddy’, no matter how many episodes of the pig I let her watch, no matter how much I colour with her, read to her, build towers with her, walk her round the block – ‘mummy, mummy, mummy.’ That’s loyalty for you.

And she’s using her mother’s tendency to be more indulgent than me to play her parents off against one another. If I say no, she starts to cry and toddles over to mummy to see if she can get what she wants, and lays it on really thick by pointing at me in the midst of her despair and sobbing, as if saying, ‘Daddy was mean to me, mummy, sort him out!’ Bloody tattle-tale. It’s amazing how quickly she’s learned that skill.

And to add insult to injury, when mummy asks, ‘What’s wrong? Why are you so upset?’ my darling, cherished daughter says the word she never says under any other circumstance: ‘daddy.’

Disloyal little bastard.

 

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