I drop my daughter off at my mother-in-law's house in the mornings. This is one of my daddy jobs. Because it requires me to wake up earlier than usual, and because I am lazy, I fought it as long as I could. At first I told my wife I couldn't do the morning drop off because I was going to wake up early and go to the gym. She supported my decision to lead a healthier life. That lasted two weeks. One of the unfortunate things about sharing a bed with someone is that they know when you aren't waking up early to go to the gym.
Next I told her that I'd rather do the pick up after work because daylight savings was coming and it would allow me to spend more time with our daughter in the day light. I explained that I read an article that quoted a study that father-daughter daylight interaction is a direct factor in keeping your kids off meth and the pole. So unless she wanted a pipe smoking stripper toddler, it would probably be best if she dropped her off in the morning and I did the afternoon pick up. I call this my "Trivial Pursuit Tactic." I find when playing Trivial Pursuit, that as long as I sound confident in my answer, then most people at the table will agree that it is correct. I may get the question wrong in the end, but at least people nod in agreement for a second. My wife refuses to play Trivial Pursuit with me, and my Daddy Daughter Day Light Savings Meth-Head Stripper Prevention Strategy idea only worked about as long as it took for me to say it.
So now I drop the kid off at the mother-in-law's. And your know what? I love it. Here are a few reasons why:
Toddlers are floppy love buckets in the morning.
There is no time my daughter loves me more than when I wake her up at 7 AM. I realize that this is going to change someday, but for now I am her rising sun. She greets me with a subtle smile and hugs me as long as I'll let her. If I ask for a hug or a kiss in the evenings most times I'll get a defiant "No!" accompanied by an attempt to stab me in the eye with a crayon. Not in the mornings. In the mornings Dad is the bees knees.
We have alone time in the morning
When I used to pick her up, we had the length of the car ride home to interact one on one. This was enough time for a run through of the ABC's and a short discussion of relevant political topics. We would barely get to Itsy-Bitsy-Spider, let alone start with celebrity gossip before pulling into the driveway. Now, in the mornings, we have interactions that make me feel like more of a dad than a chauffeur. She hangs out in the bathroom and watches me shave. I get her dressed and say fun commands like "Arms Up!" I also get to pack her to-go bag. This lets me play the occasional prank on grandma like packing a striped shirt and plaid shorts, or not packing any diapers or socks. Then, around noon, I'll get an e-mail from my wife that says "Did you know you didn't pack any diapers for Daughter," and I'll reply "oops," and everyone laughs. Good times are had by all.
And finally... I secretly enjoy that I make my daughter cry.
Lately, when I bring my daughter into my mother-in-law's house she clings to me as if I were leaving her forever. When I gently peel her from her death grip and hand her to Grandma she gives me this look that says "Why?" When I leave, her lip quivers until I walk out of the room, and as I exit to the garage I can hear her sobs grow louder as they fade into the increasing distance between her and I. It is horribly wonderful. Part of me is so happy that my little girl loves me enough to know she's going to miss me. I know... I should want my girl to be happy all the time, but I know that is not going to happen. At least this time it is a cry that says she wishes she had more than a half hour in the morning to hang out with her dad. I wish I did too honey. I really do. But at least we've got our mornings. "The itsy bitsy spider…"