Any good dad realizes he plays a significant role in a child’s life. Whether it be teaching life lessons….. like when cursing is appropriate while driving. Or, the importance of treating others kindly….. like sharing some of your Twizzlers, but never the last one. Or, how to make smart decisions….. like only trying to “ride” the dog when there is some sort of adult supervision. But perhaps some of the most important lessons come by way of every day interactions with Dad. These are the moments that shape a little one into the person they will become in the future.
So, I’d like to take a moment to focus on some of these interactions. My son, who is only 21 months is already a little mini version of my hubby. He idolizes Dada, the way a little boy should and he mimics everything he does – including the things we wish (OK- maybe I wish) he wouldn’t. I suppose this is where my thoughts and hubby’s thoughts become divergent. As any man with a son knows, whether he admits it to you or not, watching your little one do everything he can to be like his Dad is a tremendous ego boost and a very proud moment for every Dad. Even when some of the mimicry looks like this:
Intense Food Discrimination: When I first met my dear husband he ate probably 5 things: Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Pizza, Pasta and maybe an occasional piece of chicken. My miniature version of hubby has a phenomenal knack to refuse just about anything I put in front of him (must make hubby so proud!). If he could, he’d simply eat yogurt all-day, every-day. Do you want pasta with meatballs?… “No, Gogurt”. Do you want chicken nuggets “Hmmm.. Gogurt”. How about grilled cheese for lunch “NOOOO. Gogurt”. You get the picture. The more time I spent with hubby, the more he opened up his food repertoire but this took almost 10 years and I just can’t wait that long with our son!!
Footwear Rebellion: Let’s just say that hubby’s wardrobe is…… limited. He’s a jeans, t-shirt and sneakers kinda guy. Luckily (for him!) he works in an office environment where this style is perfectly acceptable. It’s not however, lucky for me when my mini-hubby only wants to dress like Dada. I love his Dada.. but, I’d also love some khaki’s, maybe a cool button down and god forbid a pair of hip sandals. YIKES! You’d think I asked him to sport a pink tutu and a pair of heels! Well, our little guy is already following in these sneaker covered footsteps. He has one pair of shoes he will wear, and ALL other options result in a complete meltdown. A meltdown that I can’t help think makes hubby inwardly smile as he proudly watches his son resist my attempts to make him look different from his Dada.
Utensil/Cup Selection: I once wrote a post (HERE) about hubby’s need to use the “appropriate bowl” for the “appropriate foods”. I suppose this could be classified as OCD. Or perhaps, it’s more aligned with the desire to be difficult (this one gets my vote!). Or perhaps it’s just a silent, but very powerful, training method for raising a mini version of himself. It’s amazing how similar our son can be when I try to give him milk in his “water cup” or I grab the blue fork for dinner when it’s completely obvious that the appropriate fork for this dinner is the white one. Hubby’s response… “well, why would you try to put milk into a water cup?”
The Ham Switch: For all of hubby’s annoying qualities, he can be quite cute and charming (this is obviously why I put up with him……) I learned some time ago that he likes to “perform” and can turn on his charm and charisma just as quickly as he can turn it off. It’s like a light switch of manipulation – one I affectionately call his “ham switch”. One minute he’s cranky and grouchy…. The next he’s all nice, smiley and dare I say adorable… and “hamming it up”? Well, it’s sort of like having a toddler and watching the absurd range of emotions that can all happen within about a 90 second window. The rolling on the floor temper tantrum that occurs when you won’t give them the knife off the counter (that they must have NOW). That’s quickly followed by silence and happy head nodding as you offer a cookie in place of the knife. Immediately followed by a sweet smile as they peek around the corner to catch your eye and the giggle that follows as you play peek-a-boo behind the cookie. And then, the switch flips again as you mention that one cookie was enough and that giggling, adorable little guy drops to the floor and writhes in a screaming fit because you’re obviously the meanest mom ever. Yep, our little one has fine tuned the ham switch of manipulation at 21 months…. Well done Dada. Well done.
So, with all these wonderful lessons being learned every day. I can’t help but think that hubby just loves the role he plays as a Dad. He imparts wonderful tidbits of learning and coaching, he molds a young and impressionable mind and he proudly looks into a miniature mirror every time our son demonstrates something he’s learned from his dad. OR…. I’ve actually just proven that I live with TWO toddlers and the reason they are so alike is because men take so long to mature that, at the age of 39, I’m still waiting for hubby to take his next mental leap into adulthood. (Where’s that chapter of The Wonder Weeks??)