It hurts to be rejected. Especially if the other party is your own kid.
I remember when Ash was still new, complete with THE 'baby smell'. I would jump at every opportunity to be close to him - change diapers, bathing, playing, lulling him to sleep. You name it, I would do it. Even making stupid faces and sounds that I never dreamt I would be doing in the pre-kids era of my life.
I was Ash's slave. I wanted his approval, his acceptance that Daddy was THE guy to go to for fun - and pretty much everything else.
And I succeeded.
I was his awesome play mate. And where all before me had failed, he stopped crying the moment I picked him up. To him, I was his superhero. And I was slicker than greased weasel poop. Or at least it lasted until he discovered I couldn't climb walls or fly faster than a speeding bullet. But that's besides the point. The point is, that Ash knew that I would be able to provide him with comfort whenever he needed, no questions asked. And I'm glad to say it still stands true to this very day.
Fast forward to Ale. Being the only girl among the 3 monkies, there was little doubt that the title of Daddy's princess would be hers to assume.
But having 2 older siblings before her also meant that I wasn't able to give her as much attention as I did with Ash. There were still all the ultra-cool boys' stuff to do together, like playing with our Transformers toys or just plain silly wrestling on the mattress foam.
This meant that the wifey was her source of comfort most of the time. And it shows.
Ale would wake up in the middle of the night crying her lungs out, and there I was, trying to pacify her by picking her up. But no, she would act as if I was made of cactus, like I was made of fire. She would wail and wail and wail and wail until her entire face was covered with a mash-up of tears, mucus and booger. And still she wailed some more. Only when the wifey took over was calm finally restored.
I have an explanation for this, and it is called boobies. My wifey has them, and I don't. Okay okay, I *cough* do *cough* too. But they aren't lactating so Ale has no use for them.
But again, that's besides the point. The point is, that I didn't give her the same amount of attention and time as compared to Ash and the consequences are telling. Ale sticks to the wifey. Period.
So it got me thinking - even the small act of changing a diaper, or tickling each other silly on the floor, lets your child know that you DO have the capacity to be there for him or her. And it starts from young - from the moment that they still have that 'new baby' smell - and they can sense that. They know. Just because they are noisy pooping little buggers doesn't mean they aren't smart.
And so it comes down to this - involvement. Feed more meals. Bathe them more. Change more diapers. Play with them more. Listen more.
The rewards will be immense.