My husband is a Leo.
Our daughter is a Taurus.
You could call it a coincidence, but then I could call it a case of them both being a bit stubborn and a bit intense sometimes. Now, don't get me wrong: I love them both to pieces. And it's a good thing I do because if I didn't they would be convinced it was because of something wrong with me, since clearly they are perfect just as they are.
So what we get sometimes is a bit of butting heads, and it's interesting to me that we live in a house divided: on one side is the pair of them, a bit impetuous and boastful but at the same time so generous and loving it can make your heart burst with joy. On the other side is us: the son with the silly personality and carefree ways and flashing temper, and his momma who loves laughter and peacefulness but wants things done her way.
On any typical night, I get home from work and Husband is mildly grumpy and pretty hungry, sitting on the floor with the aftermath of 2 wild kids circling him and dropping toys in their wake. As soon as I turn off my car, she's running out to greet me, sometimes with little brother following dutifully. Their faces are bright with smiles at first, and then: she starts to talk and he bursts into manic panic of some variety because I Have Not Picked Him Up Yet and Why Haven't I Picked Him UP??!!?!. I swoop his warm body up in my arms, kiss her like it's been weeks and not 9 hours since I saw her last, and go inside to put down my bag. And then we eat and we play and we barter over bites of food and potential desserts and she talks through the whole thing, interrupting stories we're telling to give us her version. And, in her version, everything happened 'last summer' or 'on Sunderday' and her voice sounds how I imagine a little squirrel would sound if a little squirrel could talk. And then sometimes he begs to be held or he WILL CRY, but when you hold him you'd better stand up and rock or he WILL CRY and then he needs kisses or he WILL CRY but when he's ready to get down and tells you, "All Done!" and you let him down it will offend him that he's no longer being held even though He Wanted Down and he WILL CRY. And then he'll be distracted by something and tear across the room with his head thrown back and crash into the couch with a boom and laughter.
Tonight, we went out to dinner. We fancied it up at Olive Garden, mostly because they have endless salad and endless pasta and my husband is still on that wing quest I mentioned before. It was a fun dinner, actually, with Rohan eating possibly more food than I did, and Luca barely eating unless I concentrated on reminding her to eat (flighty, too...she's a bit of that but it's so endearing, you know?) and the waiter misinterpreting my husband asking him for a to-go box for my leftovers as a sign that I wanted him to pack my dinner up as I sat there, fork mid-air between plate and mouth with angel hair pasta hanging from it.
And then, CRASH went the bliss when we walked outside, me with a big boy in my left arm and leftovers in my right, and her daddy offered her his hand to cross the parking lot. This was met with tears which were soon a full-blown meltdown of epic and heart-wrenching proportions. Why? Because, you know, she wanted to hold my hand. Naturally. Since both his hands were free and neither of mine were.
We both acted cool as we crossed the parking lot, acutely aware of the old folks watching the stormy sky light up in shades of pink and violet and most likely preparing themselves to judge our every parenting mis-step. Smile, keep your humor, don't let her rattle you with the scene she's attempting to create.
But when we got to the car and I leaned to buckle her in, it's entirely possible I lost all cool and semi-growled, "You WILL stop that right now." in the Scary Mom voice.
Once everyone was buckled in and some semblance of calm had stopped her tears, I asked her what That had been about. And at first it was, "I wanted YOU to hold my hand." but then I dug a bit more because even though I said before that he and she are so alike (this = the root behind the head-butting they do), it means I sometimes best know when to call her on her...bullshit? Can you call a 3 year old on their bullshit? Because, frankly, I do. And it works. Sometimes. Usually.
"At school," she whimpered, "when daddy gets me? He doesn't give me a cuddle."
There it was. Simple. Surprising in that he hadn't even thought of it and who expects a 3 year old to remember and fret over these sorts of things anyhow? And of course he brushed it off at first, because (a) he's a dude and (b) he's a dude, but when I pressed a bit he said to me, "Well, I don't run in and coo over her, if that's what she means." And then, to her directly, "But sweetie, does Daddy come in and talk to your teachers and all your friends?"
Him: "Well, see? Lots of kids don't have Daddies who do tha-"
Me (cutting him off): "She doesn't care what other Daddies don't do, babe. She cares what her Daddy DOES."
Him: "Oh? But..."
Me: "Sometimes, even when she's only 3, a girl wants to feel like she's the only girl in the room."
When we got home, I gave Rohan some milk and got him in nighttime gear and carried his sleepy body up to bed. We had smooches and cuddles, and then I put him in his crib with his Bop-Bop and blankie and left the room. When I came back down, they were there, together in the playroom, peas in a pod teasing each other and building houses and shapes with blocks. She would erupt in giggles every time he'd knock her building down and then he'd tickle her feet and suddenly that magic between Daddy and daughter was back and, in his eyes I could see this: She was the only girl in the room.