“Pick me up, I want give you a hug,” Sprout said to me before I was out the door in the morning.
I happily scooped her up and twirled her in the air savoring the feeling of her little arms wrapped around my neck. It was a stark contrast to the previous night where Sprout threw a monumental tantrum that lasted for an hour and a half that ended with her sitting on the floor, back turned to me, refusing to even sit next to me on the couch.
Ah, such is life with Sprout. She is a study of extremes. Her attitude towards me is either hot or cold, and there’s no way to predict which version of her I will encounter at any given time. The speed at which her temperature can change is head-swimmingly astounding.
Once upon a time, when Sprout was in utero, the constant refrain I heard from others was how wonderful it was to be the dad of a girl. Stories were heaped upon me of little girls sharing a special bond with their daddies, filled with promises of a child who would relish every moment with her father. I was excited to be the dad of a girl, thinking that I would have at least 10-11 great years with my girl before she turned into a tween preoccupied with boys and Biebers.
Sprout was soon born, screaming herself purple and angry for having to move from the womb to the world.
I had the touch with Sprout, for about two weeks when she was a newborn. If I turned out the lights in my study and rocked her while “Three Little Birds” played, without fail she would settle. But this didn't last long and it was soon that Sprout wanted very little to do with me.
Sprout’s icy attitude towards me began to thaw around the two-year mark. Suddenly I would receive kisses and hugs and would hear the phrase, “I love you.” Each time electrified me in the way that only a parent could understand. But Sprout carefully played me like a concert pianist, always careful not to let me in too much. Now she often routinely refuses to give me a hug or a kiss—always at night. And forget about her ever letting me read a bedtime story.
Of course, all of this rejection only makes me want to try harder. Yes, at an early age Sprout has figured out what a lot of women don’t learn until much later—the more you push a man away, the more they want to chase. Even though I recognize that this is happening, I am compelled to try to break down the walls she’s put up between us in my fruitless pursuit of the idealized father/daughter relationship that I been told about so long ago.