When I say softer parent, I’m not thinking about round the waist. At the moment I’m leading that one. The question is: out of mum and dad, who is more willing to break when the baby’s siren starts up?
The stereotype is that mums give the cuddles, and dads dish out the discipline. Alternatively, dads leave all the strict stuff and coddling to the mums, and occasionally peer over their newspapers to tickle the little ones. I’m guessing that in most modern families, the picture is no longer so clear.
Little Bear now thinks he’s learnt to run. He is mistaken. He toddles towards his goal building enthusiasm on the way and starts leaning forward to pick up his pace. This inevitably leads to him toppling over as his legs fail to catch up with his head. Despite doing this several times a day, he still has the same shocked reaction: ‘what, just, happened. The floor was under me, now it is on my face’.
When Pappa sees this (he smothers a laugh as it looks hilarious), and waits. If Little Bear isn’t that bothered, and he knows Pappa’s not going to run over, he just pulls himself up, and starts another attempt at sprinting. When Mamma sees it happening, you can guarantee a note of panic will come from wherever she is in the house or nearby in the park. She covers a good 10 meters or so with obstacles inbetween in the blink of an eye and swoops the now crying Little Bear off the floor for soothing. So far, Pappa is stronger, and Mamma is softer.
But, when it comes to eating there’s different story. The other week I picked Little Bear up from nursery, and in the friendly and un-intrusive way nursery staff do, his key carer brought up his poor eating habits: ‘when we have tea, the babies usually all sit down to eat, but he tends to not like that. By any chance, does he eat whilst walking around at home at the same time as playing?’…
Pappa's response: ‘Really!? Hmmm, it’s probably his mum doing that…’
That was a lie. When it comes to food, Mamma puts him in his high chair and lets him feed himself. Because Little Bear knows Pappa is weaker, he insists on having his toast whilst walking around. Desperate to make sure he eats, I have been known to run after him whilst he’s toddling around with a rattle in one hand and a sandwich in the other, at the same time as giving his audience of toys a lecture. When I try and sit him at the table, he just gives me an indignant look and holds his arms up. I break quickly and the meal moves to the play area. Mamma stronger, Pappa softer.
When it comes to sleeping, we’re both a little soft. In the last few months, since he’s started to get a lot more clingy to his parents, Little Bear wakes up around mid-night and demands to come into our bed for the rest of the night. We never did it when he was smaller, but now it's not so dangerous, why not? ‘It’s a bad habit’ we’re told, ‘he should be in his own room by now’ they say, ‘you’re not doing yourselves any favours in the long-term’.
But, secretly, it’s quite lovely having the little snuggle pudding stop crying the moment he puts his head on one of our shoulders. Or, as is more commonly the case, puts his feet in one of our faces because he’s decided lying horizontally is sooo much better. For reassurance in the night, his little hand searches for my face with his eyes closed. Feeling the beard in the right place, he falls back to sleep. Being a parent has a lot of costs and strains, but these moments are definitely some of the benefits, even if it means we have less space, we can have less blanket on the bed, and have 10 cm of mattress to sleep on. So Mamma and Pappa both seem soft on this one.
Final score of who is softest parent:
Winner = Little Bear
Who’s the softer parent in your family?
I'm Dave, dad of Little Bear. Also known as 'Pappa' to the little man as we try and bring out his Swedish roots