Playing favorites

            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.

29 responses to “Playing favorites

  1. I feel your ‘pain.’ My little one & his dad definitely have quite a lovefest going on, too.

  2. The best part is that all that love is fluid. You’re all swept along on the crest of its wave.

  3. This is one of those posts that, to me, reads like a travel log of a country I’ve never visited, a country where giant ants feast on camels and dogs lose their voices if they cross a hyena’s shadow.

  4. Ohhh… enjoy every minute! It sounds like you’re not taking it personally, which is very, very wise of you. My youngest, at 9, still LOVES to sit on my lap. He’s almost as big as me, now! Really big for his age. So we have to wait ’til I’m on the couch and he can mostly stretch out. I’ve learned… hold ’em while you can! Sounds like your hubby knows this, too.

  5. And Jack Jack’s daddy is also a big fan of lots of TV watching, unlike mommy.

  6. I am still my youngest’s favorite by far. Because I am not of the Good Mother variety of parent, I tend to find her single-minded devotion tiring. But I know I’ll miss it when it’s gone.

  7. Well done Zachary! That boy has potential – he could have gone for the easy win with “no, MOMMY does” but he did the right thing there. Possible career in diplomacy some day?

  8. there are advantages to your child prefering the other parent 🙂

  9. I have to agree with Painted Maypole.

    Take heart. My 9 year old boy still snuggles with me, and I’m betting Ben’s favor will shift back and forth between you over time. (The girl likes to snuggle, too, until Daddy comes home. Fickle thing.)

  10. We have a lot of “lap-jacking,” going on around here. I just didn’t know that there was a word for it!

    I like it though . . . “lap-jacking . . . . .. .”

  11. They are fickle little creatures aren’t they?

  12. Last winter my daughter refused to display any affection toward her father. He was gone 60-70 hours a a week, gone weekends, home after bedtime.

    It was all mommy, all the time.

    And let me tell you, it was as hard on me as it was on him. He was hurt and I felt guilty.

  13. Oh, I have been thinking the same thing lately.

    It is kind of funny when they start playing favorites on the parents.

    Thanks for sharing!

  14. My two boys adore their daddy… absolutely adore him.

  15. My Ben feels the same way about The Daver, who is pretty much his father.

  16. Yes – I’ve been ditched too. About 4:00 every day Asher starts hanging out close to the door saying, “DA!” Once he’s home, I’m excused from his presence.

    I love it.

    I’m glad you’re not taking it personally.

  17. lisaheidrich

    AWWWW-sweet story!
    The good news is…being a Mom of now a 20 yr old and 17 yr old sons–who do they call first?
    It’s MOM!!
    Hang in there–sons are amazing and NEVER tire from “Mommy Love” no matter their age.

  18. This is lovely – I remember very well those shifting allegiances. Even now our son will be closer to one of us for a while, and then closer to the other. He couldn’t do without either of us, though, when it came to it.

  19. My son is only eight months old, and his face already lights up when Daddy comes home. He sees Mommy all day, Daddy is special. It actually makes me very happy, considering Daddy is leaving soon…I wonder what things will be like when he comes home. The Little Mister will be nearly two then.

  20. we went through this last year, when i was still home with O…and i tried not to take it personally but still was a wee bit wounded, secretly. now it’s more me who gets lap-jacked, go figure.

    fickle creatures. and Zachary is clearly wise.

  21. I have the opposite problem. My husband rocks as a father and the kids love him. But it me all the time.

    The other day I was complaining that no ONE every yells for daddy. It’s mommy, mommy, mommy……..Joe said…David yelled for me today. He said “Daddy where’s Mommy?”

  22. I sort of like that the daddy is getting all loved up.

  23. I was TOTALLY a daddy’s girl growing up, and my little sister was TOTALLY a momma’s girl. when my brother was born, we worried that the favoritism would be off balanced. but the great thing about parents? they seem to have enough love to share, without having to pick favorites … even if the kids do. 🙂 glad you and J can share the love so well!

  24. Aww – so sweet!

    I kinda wish my kids would prefer Daddy sometimes.

    Well, I’d never admit that in front of Daddy, you know.

  25. Awwwww. My lap is usually the preferred place of our youngest, but our 3 year old is a fickle boy. We have Daddy days for weeks on end and then it’s all about Mommy for a stretch. It sucks to be the one on the outs. Sigh.

  26. i so love watching a child adore their father.

  27. all this will help you when you are figuring out seating for the your third – unless of course, that tips the scales in the other direction. LP was 22 months old when his brother was born. It turns out my non-existent lap held some appeal if only so that he could offer his passy to my belly button to share with the baby – it is possible I was a means to an end, or that he was engaged in a little diplomacy himself (I’m a baby too mom!)

  28. my daughter nearly always only wants me. i kind of wish she would sit on daddy sometimes.