Dads have a special relationship with their children. I've noticed differences between Jim and my relationship with Lilly from day one but I think that over time, these differences have become even more apparent. Yesterday, I was at Home Goods (one of my favorite stores) alone. I stopped on my way home from an SAT class and enjoyed the freedom of being able to walk around the store at my own pace, without a little voice asking to hold everything that looks even a tiny bit interesting as we walk by. As I was waiting in line to pay, there was a dad with his daughter, who looked to be about Lilly's age, directly in front of me. It was clear that Dad was in charge for the day. His daughter was wearing (mismatched) sweats with some semblance of a pony tail in her hair. Her nose needed wiping and she was holding one of her shoes in her hand. She was playing with some kitchen utensil that they must have picked up, and when her dad went to put it away, this little girl screamed. Her dad gave her that utensil back so quickly it was comical. He looked behind at me apologetically with a face that said, "anything to make her stop screaming." A few seconds later, this little girl decided she was done playing with this utensil and so logically, she dropped it on the ground. We moved forward a few inches in the line and this girl picked up a bag of jelly beans that were on the shelf next to her. Her dad responded by saying, "I knew you'd see those. Okay, we can get some jellybeans." He found another bag that said, "kid flavors" on it (whatever that means) and convinced his daughter to trade the bag in her hand for this bag of kid flavored jellybeans, and off they went to pay. I smiled, knowing that this was one smart little girl. She knew how to get what she wanted from her dad, and there is something very sweet about seeing that relationship.
Sometimes I see differences in the way that Jim and I interact with Lilly. See exhibit A (Jim putting on Lilly's pajama pants) below. Jim seems to have endless patience with Lil, especially when it comes to getting dressed or putting on her diaper. He'll let her roll around, stand up...you name it, she does it!
Just in case you need any translations (I can't imagine why!) Lilly starts off saying "cheese" when she sees the camera and she asks for a hug when she wants to be picked up at the end.
Other times, I hear about things Jim does differently. Jim usually puts Lilly to bed at night and as far as I knew, Jim and I both had the same bedtime routine for Lil. The other day, Jim informed me differently. I now know that Jim lets Lilly listen to a few stories while she's sitting on his lap and then he lets her have a run around the room before returning to his lap to finish reading books. She knows their routine and is comfortable with it so she follows it. When I put her to bed, it's a little bit calmer--she must save her running around for Jim--but either way, she ends up in bed and asleep. She understands the difference between our relationships. Neither way is right. After all, Jim and I are both learning how to be parents and as long as we're happy with the way Lilly is turning out, we'll keep on doing what we're doing.
I think one of Jim's greatest "Dad" moments happened a few weeks ago after we came back home after being in DC for awhile. We arrived home early on Sunday afternoon and I had to go right out to teach and tutor and Jim was putting Lilly down for her nap. We didn't have any milk in the house and so I called Jamie, our neighbor, and asked if Jim could come over and get some milk to give Lilly before she goes to sleep. Jamie, of course, said absolutely. So imagine my surprise when I get a text message from Jamie a couple of hours later saying that Jim hadn't come by for any milk and asking if I wanted her to drop some off. By this point, it was definitely past the time Jim would have put Lil to bed so I couldn't wait to hear how he had taken care of this situation. When I got home and asked Jim about the milk, he said he "improvised." How one improvises when it comes to milk was beyond me...until I opened the fridge. I turned to Jim with a look that said, "seriously?" He gave her a cup of half and half. Yep, he let Lilly drink cream before her nap. And Jim's response: "She couldn't have been happier. You should have seen her milk mustache." I would never in a million years give Lilly half and half to drink. That's what dads are for.
Finally, I am always impressed with Jim's ability to pay full attention to Lilly, when he wants to. Otherwise, he has this amazing ability to tune her out. That used to happen at night. Actually, it happened in the hospital the night after Lilly was born when the nurses brought her in for me to feed her and change her, twice, in the middle of the night. Jim was sleeping on the couch next to my bed and in the morning was impressed that Lilly could go a whole night without being fed. Not only did they bring her in to me, but they turned on all the lights to wake her and me up. And Jim didn't even move. To this day, he doesn't hear a single noise at night. But, to be fair, he goes and gets her in the morning...hence the reason Lilly's first yells in the morning are, "Daddy....daaaaaddddddyyyyyyy."
I could go on and on all day about our differences in parenting, but let me finish by saying that I love our differences and I love that Lilly understands those differences. She knows what makes each of us laugh. She knows that if she wants to be thrown up in the air or propelled onto our bed, she has to go to Jim. She knows when Jim is going to work or coming home for the evening and knows when I'm leaving to go and tutor. She understands that we are different people, but she trusts us both and she is happy when she is with either one, or both, of us.