Fact: I keep getting out-witted by a 4-year-old

Apparently, I’m not so bright.

Granted, that isn’t exactly breaking news to those of you who regularly read this column. From one insipid digression to the next, my ongoing struggle with remedial intelligence is pretty much on display for the world to gawk at each week. I don’t live in denial over this intellectual shortcoming of mine, but, still, it’s not exactly a badge of honor, either.

Regardless, I’m appreciative that most of you simply shake your heads silently over my public excursions into the inane, rather than stopping me on street corners to express just how ignorant I truly am. It’s basic human decency to not point out a person’s weaknesses, and I’m grateful that most people have the common courtesy to not purposely hurt one’s feelings — particularly when said feelings are, in fact, mine.

It’s obvious that my 4-year-old has not received that memo.

“What are you doing, kiddo?”

“Um, playing.”

“What are you playing?”

“Can you get Mom?”

“I can. Why do you need Mom?”

“Just get Mom, please.”

<My wife enters the room and asks her what she needs.>

“Can you tell Daddy what I’m doing? He doesn’t understand good.”

“First off, I don’t understand ‘well.’ And, yes, I do understand well. Tell me what you’re playing.”

“Well, my Shopkin is getting married to a Littlest Pet Shop, and they are going to live with the Hatchimals.”

 So, yeah, I don’t understand so good.

It’s taken me a while to realize that I am more of a toy to my daughter than I am someone she looks to as a parental figure, especially if my wife is around. Mommy is the one who tends to her cuts and bruises. Mommy is the one she snuggles with when she’s tired or sick during the day. Mommy is who teaches her to read and write while I’m at work.

I’m the guy who comes home from work and makes monster noises while I chase her around the house. I’m the one who gives her a popsicle at 7:30 on a Sunday morning while Mommy is trying to steal some much-needed sleep. I’m the one who... nope, that’s about it. I’m a glorified toy who shouldn’t have any actual responsibility.

I get it. She’s around her mother nearly every minute of every day and that is who takes care of her every need. Mommy is the one who handles everything, who teaches her how to do things, who does the majority of both the rewarding and punishing around the house. To my daughter, Mommy is the brains of the operation. I mean, yeah, she is. I don’t really have an argument there.

But, man, the least the kid could do is pretend that I’m not an absolute rock. 

“Come here. Let me tie your shoe for you.”

“Daddy, can you go get Mommy to do that?”

“You honestly don’t believe I know how to tie a shoe?”

“You don’t wear shoelaces.”

“That’s because I’m old and fat and don’t want to bend over anymore. It has nothing to do with not knowing how to tie shoes, you little smart...”

“I’ll help you, honey.”

“Thanks, Mommy.”

It is an ongoing struggle. Me trying to prove to my daughter that I can function in at least some primitive situations, and her proving to me once again that I can not. I think it would be less frustrating if it was just a case of her being strictly dependent on my wife because of their constant proximity to one another, but I truly do fear that she takes me for an imbecile.

And, she’s right. But it’s still disheartening to know my daughter sees that in me already.

“Daddy, can you get me a cup of juice?”

“Sure.”

“No, not that cup. The red one.”

“OK. Your juice, your cup.”

“Not that juice, Daddy. I want apple juice.”

“It looks like we’re out of apple juice. Will orange juice be alright?”

“Can you go get Mommy so she can get me apple juice?”

“Honey, we don’t have any apple juice. And I’m not running to the store right now.”

“Just, please. Mommy!”

“What do you need, Riley?”

“Can I have some apple juice?”

“Sure, honey.”

Wife moves one item out of the way, grabs the apple juice and pours a glass, as my pride-and-joy shoots me a smug look.

“Daddy said we didn’t have apple juice, Mommy.”

“Riley stole a popsicle at 7:30 this morning.”