My Daughter's Confession

Cynthia Dermody


parent/child relationships

Photo by isdisnormal

I'm not sure how the topic came up. One of those strange toddler non-sequiters between me asking my 4 year old to eat her chicken to her boldly announcing: "I love you and Maura both the same."

What? Say again ...

Maura is my daughter's preschool teacher, and I love her too. She motivated, nurturing, and affectionate. The kind of person who adores working with kids so much that she can't wait to show up for work in the morning.

But love both of us THE SAME?!!

OMG. If this little diversion was a trick to get me to stop nagging about finishing dinner, it worked. Because at that moment my brain was 100 percent not thinking about chicken.

"You DO NOT!!," I said. "You love ME the most. And if you don't, you can go to your room for a time out!"

I didn't say this, but I thought it, followed by and internal sigh and the crushing realization that I've gotta spend more time with my daughter.

Then I rationalized, "This is silly. The concept of love to a toddler is like the concept of Pi to me -- don't get it, couldn't explain it if I tried. She just got home from school and had a great day with her teacher. That's all!"

But obviously I did not win the argument with myself because I still could not leave it alone. Luckily my husband was not in the room or he would have eye-rolled me to death.

So I approached the love question from a toddler level: "Tell me, Sweetie, if you could only live with either Maura or me, who would it be?"

A pause, but not a long one, "With Mommy!" (Yesss!! Score one for Mommy!)

Reinforcement of good behavior is very important for toddlers, so later that night, when I put her to bed, I led her asked her again. The answer: me again. (Yesss! That's two in the Mommy column. I win!)

I guess I'm just a tad insecure because a few minutes later I asked my 5 year old son the same question, "Who do you love the most?" This worried me because not only could he give me answer, he produced a 11-person ranking, which made me think he had given this some serious thought before. I hoped it wasn't right after I told him "no" to the third cookie.

His Love List:

1. Mommy (phew).

2. Ben (his best friend).

3. Grandma

4. Grandpa

5. Gran

6. Grandad

7. Charlotte (his cousin)

8. May, Keiser and Keaton (dogs he knows)

9. Uncle Eamonn

10. Aunt Abbie

11. Daddy

I didn't bother to mention the list to my husband, especially the fact that he comes in 11th Most Loved, after the dogs. My son adores his father, so I know the list is just a bunch of baloney. We know our children love us.

Still, I think I'll print the list out and tuck it away just in case. I may need to pull it out and look at it during the teenage years.

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