I’m so naive!
Sure, I’ve only been the father of two children for a year, but many of my assumptions, my expectations, even some of my hopes about life with a second kid have already been dashed.
For example, I remember when I thought baby number two might actually prefer me.
Look, I didn’t have a second kid so that I might finally have an ally in the ongoing war against Mom and Buried. I’m not crazy. (I had a second kid so Detective Munch will have someone else to annoy, obviously.) But I’d definitely be lying if the thought didn’t cross my mind. My dreams were crushed quickly, of course, when we learned we were having a son and not a daughter. But still, I held out hope…
There have even been times over the past six months when it’s almost seemed like The Hammer might actually prefer me to his mom! I mean, not really; she fed him for the better part of a year, and he still would rather cuddle with her, partially because of biology but also because she smells better and doesn’t have constant scruff. Still, not even Mom and Buried would deny that he lights up when I get home from work, and he loves it when I toss him around and tickle him and play with him. Mom and Buried is still crushing me, but the gap isn’t as wide as it’s become with Detective Munch. For one thing, it’s yet to be seen if The Hammer is a carbon copy of me, and for another, he has yet to talk back.
Unfortunately, for all the gains I’ve made in the Favorite Parent competition, I’ve come to a game-changing realization: I’m competing against the wrong person.
The Hammer flat-out worships Detective Munch.
Don’t get me wrong. He seems to like me just fine, and he clearly adores his mom, but it’s becoming more and more clear that we take a backseat to his big brother.
His eyes light up as soon as his brother enters the room, and those eyes don’t stop tracking him for the duration. He always wants what big bro has, and nobody makes him laugh like his older doppelgänger, who, to be fair, mostly reciprocates. Detective Munch clearly loves “Mister Baby” (that’s what he calls him most of the time), sometimes so much so we need to rein in his enthusiasm a bit (6-year-olds aren’t exactly the most cautious individuals on the planet, and The Hammer’s head is still a tad soft). But he always has to kiss The Hammer goodbye before school and goodnight before bedtime, which is very sweet and also annoyingly time-consuming hurry up we’re gonna miss the bus!
In retrospect, The Hammer’s preference for his brother over his parents seems like the most obvious thing in the world. Who doesn’t start out thinking the older kid in the room is the coolest dude on the planet? (Emphasis on “start out” because it doesn’t last once you realize one of your older brothers hates mashed potatoes and someone thinks the other one looks like Gary Sinise.) Not only is there another kid around, but the dude has the run of the place! He’s not in a diaper, he doesn’t drink from a bottle, he can walk and run and jump like a boss. He probably has a wallet that says “BADASS MOTHERFUCKER” on it. Dude’s a rebel and a role model and every once in a while he’s even nice to you!
Unfortunately, it won’t always be sunshine and lollipops for The Hammer. As a useless baby, he’s mostly had it easy so far. He’s not old enough to really drive his brother crazy, or to steal his toys (although he’s getting there!), so most of their interactions are cute and sweet. Eventually that’s going to change. Their large-ish age gap will probably spare The Hammer some of the typical rough-housing (i.e., relentlessly getting his ass kicked) that most little brothers endure, and will also probably keep the “he’s so cool!” stuff alive for a bit longer (the Detective Will be deep into his IDGAF teens when The Hammer is still waiting to get into PG-13 flicks), but rivalry will rear its head eventually.
Nevertheless, by that time, both brothers will probably be firmly aligned in their opposition to Mom and Dad, so I’ve basically already missed my “Daddy’s boy” window. The Hammer gets a kick out of me, sure, and no one can ever match his Mom for pure adoration, but that’s just table scraps. Already there’s no one he likes more than his big brother.
If I want to be someone’s favorite, I’m gonna have to get a dog.