Ethan came downstairs one morning last week mumbling a phrase he uses daily. “Not you.”
“Yes, I know” I say and I continue to help him get coffee and begin packing his lunch.
“Mom!” he insists, “Not you”.
“I know, bud, but I’m who you get”, I reply, as if I’ve been assigned to him as some kind of concierge. Oh wait….
He says “No thank you”.
I am not Ethan’s preferred parent. I am not even sure I rank in his Top 10 Favorite People.
His preference was strong since birth. When he was born and we were hoping he would be released home from the NICU, his nurse told me to send Dennis to the next few feedings, as he ate better for him. The first time he went in an ambulance as a toddler, he clung to his father and I was relegrate to following the ambulance in our car. Through multitudes of preschool-age illnesses his, he was perched firmly on Dennis’ lap, nestled into the crook of his left arm watching the NJ Devils play hockey.
It has morphed from preference to pathology and he often ruminates on what he DOES NOT want me to do. He almost never wants me to drive him anywhere or pick him up, even though I am often the available adult. He does not want my help with clothing and often complains about me making his lunch – I tell him he is free to do so himself. God help us all if I am the only person home when he needs his nail clipped or assistance with any personal hygiene. At bedtime, he wants Dennis to fix his sheets and say goodnight.
He will ocassionally call a long list of people to pick him up somewhere, some of who will check in with me to be sure he has a ride – my sister, my mom, my friends Sarah, Mariya & Leon. I assure them I am able to drive him – he just doesn’t want me too – like always. When I show up somewhere and he was hoping for someone else, he is capable of a toddler-like tantrum.
I have friends who insist that this must be very hurtful to me. I assure you, I am completely at peace with it. First of all, no one would bat an eye if he was a hardcore ‘Mama’s Boy’ and this was reversed. People would accept that some kids (and adult children?!) heavily prefer their mothers to their fathers. Don’t worry, I have other children, one or two are on my side 🙂 He’s just more attached to Dennis.
While I understand he is often rude and cruel about it, this is where you have to ‘get’ Ethan. So many of his behaviors and activities are brain glitches and compel him to act on certain things. Perseveration is a challenge across the board with him and I recogonize that this is just the ‘thing’ he picks on a daily basis to obsess about. I am a big girl – I do way harder things than listen to Ethan say he doesn’t like me.
Dennis tells me that if I am sick, sporting a bandage, or gone from home too long, he looks for me, asks if I am alright and wants to know when I will be home.
Ssssshhhhh! We won’t tell him that we know!