It had been so long. After days, weeks, months – actually, years – of wondering when I was going to hear those hallowed words come out of my son’s mouth, it finally happened.
In the bathtub, I believe on Saturday or Sunday last, he just looked up at me and said out of the blue: “I love you, Daddy!”
A rare moment where all the other bullshit surrounding us suddenly shattered, and there was a tender, sharp, focused moment between father and son. No more noise. Just me and him, looking at each other. And my response wasn’t a flubbering, bumbling “Uh… coughity cough, um, how’s about dem Bears?” or something like that. Rather, it came out fluidly, like it was supposed to happen. “I love you too, buddy!”
It took that long for it to happen. See, right now, we are going through the whole mommy attachment phase which has been taking its sweet time. It started early on in the year – even late last year – with numerous hilarious (not really) episodes where I couldn’t even get a sock onto my son without him screaming: “NO! MOMMY DO IT! MOMMY DO IT!”
“I WANT MOMMY DO IT!”
Pull off his shirt?
“NOOOO! MOMMY! MOMMY!”
Put him in the bath?
“MOMMY DO IT! MOMMY!”
Put him in bed?
And worst of all, I’d watch him giggle and look lovingly into my wife’s eyes and utter “I love you, Mommy!” over and over again, out of the blue, again and again, letting the world know that he really, really loves his mommy.
As he should, and as he is expected to, because she really is a great mommy.
But of course, I wondered why he doesn’t say the same things to me. Why does he cut me aside with such ruthlessness and fury and turn to butter whenever mommy walks into the room? Well, there’s gazillions of theories out there. The Alpha Male Theory, which really logically shouldn’t happen until the teen years. The Oedipal theory, which is kind of gross. The general idea that he came from his mommy and she’s lovely and nurturing and feeding and all that kind of stuff while daddy just fumbles around the house trying to maintain it… yep.
But then, finally, in the bathtub, when he was playing with his usual toys – a tiny Wolverine, a red car, his BLUE HOME TOY (which to this day we have no idea what he’s bloody talking about) – and he looks up to me with those bulging baby eyes of his and blurts it out without a cue of any kind.
“I love you, Daddy!”
First time he ever said it to me without mommy prompting him to do it. And so far, he hasn’t said it since. But it’ll do. I know it’s just words, and that he really loves me no matter what he does or says, but it means something. It’s great, really.