Isn’t it funny when life imitates art and vice versa? In the HBO show Louis (written, directed and produced by my favorite comedian Louis C.K.) there’s this one great scene of him having a conversation with his daughter about who she loves more…her father or her mother. I’ve always admired it because it was so honest and painful and funny at the same time, that I knew it had to have come from a real life moment. If I could find a video of it, I would post it here but my searches were in vain. So here’s a brief recap.
While helping his youngest daughter brush her teeth, she innocently tells him that she prefers staying at her mother’s house because she makes better food and she loves her more. CK reacts matter of factly, but when his daughter turns to leave the room, he flips her off.
He handled it pretty well, the bird notwithstanding, because when a kid tells you that kind of ugly truth, it really effing hurts. Because we love our kids more than life itself and we give so much of ourselves to them every single day. And our kids will never understand just how much we sacrifice until they themselves have kids. So, I call these kinds of moments a “Louis Moment” and I had one this morning except I did not handle it quite as well as Louis did.
It all actually started this past weekend I received a text from my son’s dad saying that Liam had patted him on the leg and said, “You’re my best friend, Dada.” Part of me was a little jealous because his dad only sees him one day a week. The other six I’m the one doing the hard work of making him go to bed, brush his teeth, eat healthy all while juggling my 10 year old daughter and her competitive soccer and band on top of a 45 hour work week. But Dad, well he’s the guy who gives Liam his undivided attention for one 24 hour period. He’s the guy that has the leisure to take him to the park where he gets to ride the choo choo train and the carousel, to visit with friends who shower him with love and attention, etc. The other part of me was glad because my son is becoming a loving individual who can express his emotions. And also that he is bonding with his father because every child needs a father-like role model. I think that’s important.
Now this morning, I was doing our usual routine. I drop my daughter off first and then take my son to daycare. My son adores his Sissy and always wants to get out of the car and go to school with her. So Meghan gets out of the car and as we are driving away I hear Liam say, “Sissy is my new friend”. I thought that was very sweet. I asked him who his best friend was, knowing he would say “Dada” and he did. Then I made the fatal mistake of asking him if I was his friend. His response? A definitive “no, not my friend, Dada best friend”. I doubled down on being stupid, sure he was just messing with me and asked him “Can’t I just be a friend?” Again, a definitive and simple, “No”.
You gotta give him points for honesty. That’s the most beautiful and horrifying thing about 3 year olds–that brutal honesty. In any case, it hurt my feelings. Unlike Louis, I did not handle it well. I started to cry. Now this disturbed Liam because he is fairly empathic. He started to say in this fake happy voice, “you my friend, Mommy” over and over. At this point I’m thinking ‘Ok great, now I’ve unintentionally manipulated him into giving me the answer that I wanted’. I didn’t want him to say it out of guilt but to say it only if it was true. Then I thought, ‘Oh for Christ’s sake, Tina, grow up, be the adult here and stop blubbering’. So I did. Liam then asked me, “You stop crying now?” I told him, “Yes, I’m done”.
When I dropped him off at daycare, I gave him the usual hug and kiss. Hey, at least I didn’t flip him off, right?