Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Feeding The Monkey Lies

My daughter has been asking all day when her mother is going to come home. This means that when she does come home she will show her how much she doesn't like her.

I'll explain. When I was working I used to come home after a long hard day and greet my adoring family. When my daughter was much younger she would make sure I knew that me coming home meant bugger all as far as she was concerned. "Hey I'm home!!!" I'd excitedly say, bouncing around her. "Well done for remembering where you live - really impressive..." she seemed to say. My wife was different of course. She would be so burned out from solid wall-to-wall child-amusement time that she had to use every fiber of her being just to make it seem like she wasn't at the end of her tether. She also had the unspoken handing-off of parental responsibility that said, "you have to do everything now." Which was pretty annoying for her because my kids didn't understand this and would still demand that she entertain them. I would burst through the door, walk over to my wife to embrace her and she would shove me away desperate for five minutes without somebody touching her. All I wanted was a hug and maybe a kiss on the cheek. Perhaps a, "way to earn that paycheck hero spouse!" comment. My wife just thought that I was the next person in her direct family who would attempt to touch her nipples.

Once my son was born it changed slightly. He was too young to give a crap about me coming home but yet still managed to exude an attitude that said that he hadn't even noticed that I was gone, because he hadn't even noticed that I was here in the first place. But my daughter was now older so was a totally different story. For a good year I was her reason for being. I would come home and she would cuddle, hug and canoodle with me. I made her day just by showing up. Then randomly she just started not really giving a crap. The odd day here and there she would actually show me animosity for coming home. My wife claimed this was a total shock to her because there was no suggestion that she didn't want me home. I obviously assumed my wife was poisoning my daughter with lies and more lies about me based purely on jealousy.

Then I became the stay-at-home parent and my wife went to full-time work. Obviously I expected my son to do what my daughter did at around two years old. That being make a point of stating that he doesn't care who just got home - he's busy pushing a train around and you can damn well wait for him to show you a sliver of enthusiasm later on. Frankly if it was so important to receive love then you wouldn't have left for the whole day in the first place. But my son doesn't do that. He sits in the window every day like a pining dog from around 5pm until his mother gets home. Which is pretty tough when she wanders in at 6.45 after a good thirteen hour day. Of course if I keep telling him at 5.30 this his mother won't be home on time today he'll just run around like a rabid Tasmanian devil until she gets home to try and work through the disappointment.

My daughter though has shown me that sometimes she really is being weird when my wife gets home. Some days my little girl will tell me repeatedly for hours that she wants her mother to come home. As in now. She'll ask me over and over again if she's coming home soon. Then my wife will call and I'll let my daughter now - Mom will be home in fifteen minutes. My daughter will smile, and wait with me and her brother in the fornt window until we see the car lights. Then she'll become strange and emotionally weird. Because my wife will burst through the door and announce, "Hey I'm home!!!" and my son will squeal his way over to her. My daughter will say hello too most of the time. But 20% of the time she'll hide behind the couch, or under a blanket or even in a cupboard. My wife will attempt to seek her out which makes me daughter quite angry. If she finds her (and it's pretty easy to find a kid under a blanket in the middle of the living room) my daughter may even yell, "NO!!" at her and tell her to go away. She only wants Daddy at home. It's a little bit Norman Bates-ish to be honest.

It's taken me awhile but I've figured this out now. What happens is that my daughter gets so excited that her mother is finally coming home that she opens up like an emotional faucet. Therefore she is also unable to contain all the other emotions she's feeling - like sadness and annoyance that her mother wasn't home all day as well. So the only way she can exhibit this is by physically showing her that she's annoyed that she abandoned her and that it hurt her feelings. Hence telling her flat out that it was much better when she wasn't home yet. Which is literally true - she didn't feel this exact feeling when she was still waiting. So the good news is that my wife wasn't secretly feeding my daughter lies about me at all. It was just emotional overload after all. Which is great news!

It also gives me carte blanche to feed lies to my daughter about her mother and pass it off as her missing her mother.

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