I used to worry that all our pictures had me holding Benjamin and J holding Zachary. When he looks back, years from now, will the child think I dumped him for his younger brother? Will he wonder whether we had any time together once the baby came along?
I have stopped worrying about this, and not because of some wisdom of mature parenting or improvement in my ability to juggle two children. I have stopped worrying because nowadays, Benjamin spends precious little time in my arms.
He is way too busy sitting on his father’s lap.
Once upon a time, I was the apple of his eye, which is saying quite a bit when you consider how he feels about apples. Now, I am just a means to an end, a person to tend to his needs till his daddy shows up, at which moment I get pitched like last week’s lemonade.
As soon as he sees his father, Benjamin breaks out into a giant smile. “Daddy!” he exclaims, then turns around, assuming the position. If J is a little off his game, Ben helps him along by pushing his legs till he sits down, cross-legged on the floor. His seat in place, Benjamin plops down, wiggling his ample bottom with pleasure as he gets just the right arrangement of tushy inside lap. Then, he reaches around and grabs his father’s arms, pulling them around him.
Now, J is not the only victim of lap-jacking. Pretty much anyone who has known Benjamin for more than twenty seconds finds his derriere waving about in her face as he clutches a book and earnestly says “Building Site” or “La Luna,” depending upon the book. But, J apparently has a very special lap, because it is by far Benjamin’s favorite vacation spot.
He sits there in the morning if J is still around. He sits there after supper. He snuggles in before bath, and he gets one last cuddle during book time. In fact, the only time I ever see the child sitting still is when his father is firmly anchored underneath him.
One recent morning, as Benjamin beamed from his perch on his father’s lap, Zachary told me that he thinks his brother wants Daddy to take care of him all day, and I think he might be right.
“Who gives better hugs?” I ask the nineteen-month-old. “Mommy or Daddy?”
“Daddy!” he exclaims.
“Who has a better lap? Mommy or Daddy?”
“Who gives the best cuddles?”
“No,” Zachary counters, “Mommy AND Daddy.” Then, noting an opening, he strides past his little brother and his father, and moves in for a Mommy hug. At least someone likes them.