"Michael is cute."
Those three words are the actual sound of my heart collapsing in on itself. If you had held a stethoscope to my chest yesterday morning, you would have heard my heart's rhythmic thu-thump cease and then eerily echo the exact words that had just came out of Duchess's mouth as my left and right ventricles squeezed in on each other and turned my heart into a pathetic heart raisin.
Michael is the little towhead jerk face from Duchess's daycare, who I now hate with every fibre of my being. He is also NOT cute. And I hate him. Have I mentioned that I hate him? Because I do.
OK, he's cute. Fine. What 3-year-old isn't cute? And I don't really hate him. But what is a dad to do? Our kids are going to love who they love, and any amount of pushing I do is going to send my daughter straight into Michael's stubby little toddler arms. I suppose their love is inevitable.
1. If you give her a cookie, DO NOT break it in half.
Two halves do not make a whole when it comes to Duchess's cookies. Two halves make a broken cookie. Have you seen the scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark when they open the Ark and all the Nazi's faces melt off? Of course you haven't. You're 3. Either way, that is what happens when you break one of Duchess's cookies in half.
2. Be adaptable. She changes her mind a lot.
Oh, you want to go to the zoo? You want to go the park? Too bad. Duchess just changed her mind. She no longer wants to go. You're frustrated because it was her idea to go in the first place and you spent a half an hour finding her shoe? Cry me a freaking river. She's your girlfriend now. In these situations, you either need to be adaptable, or strong enough to pick her up and carry her to the car. Since you are a pathetic three feet tall and unable to pick her up, this means you need to be adaptable. Isn't love grand?
3. She likes the pink cup, but don't call it the pink cup. Call it the "princess cup."
Also, sometimes she likes a little water in her milk. I know. That is incredibly weird, but my daughter is weird. If you aren't ready to let her get a little weird, you should look elsewhere for companionship. You should also know that she would rather have goldfish crackers instead of kisses, but don't give her too many.
4. Sometimes she needs to go potty, but she won't admit it. Encourage her to go potty - but don't force her.
She hasn't had an accident for a long time, so you shouldn't have much to worry about. I find singing the potty song works really well. It goes like this: "If you have to go potty, stop and go right away!!" If you sing it incorrectly she will insist on teaching you how to sing it before she will go potty. So learn quickly or things will get messy.
5. Allow her to be her own woman.
Do not open her door for her. She can open her own door. Do not help her down from the table. She can get down from the table. Do not pour her milk. She can... actually, she can't pour her own milk; she'll spill it every damn time. Good luck with that, Michael.
6. Her favourite songs are "Do Re Mi" and "Ants Go Marching"
BUT you must call them "Doe a Deer" and "Marching Hurrah." Also, don't sing them. Just let her sing them and you clap at the end. Tell her that she did a good job. She likes to know when she did a good job singing.
7. She might say she hates you. It doesn't mean she hates you. She's complicated.
Look, Michael. Duchess is a wonderful girl. She is bright, and independent, and stubborn. She is all the best parts of her mother and I to the nth degree. She is also all of our bad parts amplified. Sometimes, she's going to lash out. Be patient. Sometimes, she is going to be hurt. Be gentle and kind. Sometimes, she's not going to know how to tell you how she is feeling. Just keep listening. You'll figure it out, man. I promise. And if you don't, it's because you're 3 FREAKING YEARS OLD AND YOU SHOULDN'T BE DATING.
Good luck. You're going to need it.
P.S. If it doesn't work out, please send her home. I miss her already.
If you had to give advice for dating your toddler, what items would you include?
This post originally appeared on Ask Your Dad blog and has been republished with permission.