You don’t have to deserve your mother’s love.Ã‚Â You have to deserve your father’s.Ã‚Â He is more particular…. The father is always a Republican towards his son, and his mother’s always a Democrat. ~Robert Frost
My husband, Ã¢â‚¬Å“JayÃ¢â‚¬Â, had this crazy idea that my children obey my every command, that my toddler doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t lie flat in the middle of an intersection because he wants to be carried, that my grade-schooler actually gets up from the couch and puts her NintendoDS away with joy when she is told.Ã‚Â I often asked Jay if there were also magic fairies flying around in his world.
The fact is my husband is in a different world.Ã‚Â My kids behave differently when they are with him.Ã‚Â TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re better.Ã‚Â When my toddler son Ã¢â‚¬Å“CueÃ¢â‚¬Â is with his father, he wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t dream of going boneless in the face of oncoming traffic.Ã‚Â My grade-schooler daughter Ã¢â‚¬Å“OzÃ¢â‚¬Â pops to attention as soon as her father speaks her name.
When I complained, Jay dealt up helpful advice like Ã¢â‚¬Å“Just tell him to walkÃ¢â‚¬Â orÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“Be more authoritative.Ã¢â‚¬Â I try this, and my children turn into varying degrees of devil spawn.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â I adopt the authoritative tone over a few months to see if it sinks in; it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t.Ã‚Â Oz and Cue just dive deeper into their comfort zone of DanteÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Inferno.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d been trying, in vain, to explain this phenomenon to Jay.Ã‚Â He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Ã¢â‚¬Å“getÃ¢â‚¬Â it until he saw it in action recently.Ã‚Â We took Cue, the toddler, to the park to ride his bike.Ã‚Â Instead of the hearty pedaling he usually does, Cue feigned fright.Ã‚Â He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pedal; He whined.Ã‚Â Jay was flabbergasted; I was smug.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“See?Ã¢â‚¬Â I said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is what I get all the time.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only doing this because youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re here,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jay said, as if to shift blame.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Exactly!Ã¢â‚¬Â I exclaimed.
Jay still didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem to get it.Ã‚Â I leaned over to Cue. Using my full-on Commander Riker voice, I said Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ride your bike!Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Noooooo, I gonna fall off!Ã¢â‚¬Â Cue wailed.Ã‚Â He then got off the bike and jumped in my arms, his helmet smashing into my front teeth.
My husband ordered him immediately to ride his bike, but it was no use.Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just because youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re here,Ã¢â‚¬Â my husband mumbled.Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“He rode it just fine the 5 million other times weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been out.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get the kids to do anything,Ã¢â‚¬Â I repeated, for what felt like the 5 million-and-second time.Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“If I were alone, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d end up carrying him and the bicycle.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Defining Moment
Finally I caught a break.Ã‚Â The week following the ill-fated bike ride, my children granted me the small mercy of demonstrating this deviant behavior when my husband could witness it.Ã‚Â It happened so often and so clearly that now Jay and I have given the phenomenon a name.Ã‚Â We call it Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Mommy.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Main Entry:Ã‚Â the momÃ‚Â·my
Pronunciation: thÃ‰â„¢Ã‚Â mÃƒÂ¤mÃ„â€œ, -mi
Function: proper noun
Inflected Form(s): -ies
Etymology: Middle English moder must-have-nowe Old English momacrdor; akin to Old High German muoter mother, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t-maketh-me, Latin mater, mater, mater, mater, I-need-you mater.
1 a : the mysterious phenomenon or inexplicable behavior that a child exhibits in the presence of the woman who gave birth and/or is rearing that child, wherein the behavior of total helplessness overcomes said child. <She pulled The Mommy today when she was asked to do her chores> <He went boneless and did The Mommy in the street> b. the opposite behavior that a child displays in front of the male adult figure, usually the father, characterized by big eyes, whine, and every other expression they wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t dare give said male figure. <I say, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mow the lawnÃ¢â‚¬Â and he does it.Ã‚Â No The Mommy here.>
Jay and I parent the same way.Ã‚Â We are on the same page when it comes to discipline and rewards.Ã‚Â We are both authorities and our children are generally well-behaved.Ã‚Â We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hit our children.Ã‚Â We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to yell often.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â But for some reason, Jay can cook spaghetti, alone in the kitchen, where I always have both children under my feet when IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m trying to make a ham sandwich.Ã‚Â Jay can sit on the couch and read for 2 hours and I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sit on the toilet for 2 seconds without interruption.Ã‚Â How does he *DO* that?Ã‚Â His secret is like the Holy Grail.Ã‚Â I ask Jay, and he only offers up this pithy adage of advice: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know, tell them to leave you alone.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Oh Silly ME!Ã‚Â Yes!Ã‚Â Tell them to leave me alone.Ã‚Â So simple! Of course, saying that had the total and utter opposite effect.Ã‚Â In fact, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s add a definition:
c: the act of doing exactly the opposite of what the mother says, especially if the mother is trying to employ phrases the father uses.
The Final Frontier
So, when it comes to the kids, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m Jimmy Carter and my husband is Ronald Reagan?Ã‚Â I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think so.Ã‚Â Jay is a bleeding heart pile of mush when it comes to the kids.Ã‚Â He loves them and shows it.Ã‚Â And IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m no wimp, either.Ã‚Â My Commander Riker voice can be pretty intimidating; IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve gotten a rep with my kidsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ friends as being strict.Ã‚Â The Mommy is just one of those mysteries of the universe.Ã‚Â Like gravity and stars and US tax codes, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no hope for understanding it.Ã‚Â Kids act differently for moms and dads, just as they do for teachers, grandparents, doctors or ice cream truck drivers.
Dads, do us moms a favor:Ã‚Â Accept that The Mommy happens and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unavoidable.Ã‚Â Give us a break and bite your lip next time you want to give us advice.Ã‚Â Instead, hold your ear up to the front window and say Ã¢â‚¬Å“Is that the ice cream truck I hear?Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â That should give us just enough time to pee.