Sometimes when I’m making Riley do something he doesn’t want to do, he starts wailing for JB. “Daaaaaaaaaddyyyyyyyy,” he snivels in his best skull-rupturing whine as I force him to endure some mighty injustice, such as having his butt wiped. YOUR DADDY CAN’T SAVE YOU NOW, I think evilly, but I just count to ten and remind Riley that Daddy’s at work, where presumably he is not being required to remove poop from anyone’s rectum, the lucky bastard.

He does the same thing to JB. “MOMMMMMMY,” he’ll howl from his bedroom, where he’s being marched at gunpoint into his pajamas. If I’m within eyesight, he’ll reach his arms out to me beseechingly, his great liquid brown eyes Bambi-like in their sorrow. It’s sort of annoying/funny how he seems to think the parent who isn’t in the midst of the unrewarding activity might just swoop in and put an end to it — he has yet to learn that JB and I are mostly a unified, heartless team when it comes to discipline, and neither of us can be swayed by piteous moans, calls for help, or haddock-like thrashing.

The playing field is fairly even these days, when it comes to Riley’s affections. Sometimes he wants his dad, sometimes he wants his mom; most of the time he’s happiest when we’re both around. He likes to test our individual boundaries (ie, when JB tells Riley no, he’ll turn to me and tattle: “Mommy, Daddy said I can’t haaaave that,” clearly hoping I’ll overrule the decision), but overall he doesn’t seem to prefer one parent’s company over the other’s.

It is nothing like it used to be, and that situation improved so gradually I only recently realized how different things really are. I can’t tell you how awful some of those moments were, and for everyone who gently reminded me that it was a stage, thank you. You were right. It may be uneven again in the future, or maybe we’ll go through a rejection/preference period with Dylan, but I’ll try and remember that nothing is permanent. Everything is always, always changing.

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