It's three o'clock in the morning, and my wife is kicking me awake (she rarely nudges gently).
"Noah wants his dinosaur toy in bed with him," she grumbles. "And he says he wants you."
Blearily (and blindly, due to my terrible short-sightedness) I stumble into Noah's bedroom. My three-year-old is mumbling to himself in his half-awake, desperate-for-a-dinosaur-toy state.
"I don't want you, mummy, I want daddy," he croaks.
This is not the first time he has shunned my wife in favour of me. On a few occasions recently he has given her the cold shoulder: the other day we both picked him up from nursery and he made a beeline straight for me and leapt into my arms for a cuddle, leaving my wife a little stranded and feeling quite a lot like the third wheel. He's even gone so far as to quite happily tell me he loves me, and only admit to loving his mum when encouraged to.
This is by no means a reflection on my wife's parenting skills: she's the best parent I know - even better than my own mother, who used to make us goody bags before we went on long car journeys. In fact, to be quite honest, I have no idea at all why Noah suddenly has this new found affection for me.
I must admit it gives me mixed feelings. On one hand, it's wonderful to feel so wanted and to get so many cuddles, but on the other I feel guilty that, for some reason, Noah seems to be preferring me to his mum at the moment. She laughs about it, and tries to give the impression that it doesn't bother her, but I can tell that it does, and I don't blame her.
I can only imagine that because I'm out at work eight hours a day for five days a week I'm something of a novelty, not just for Noah but for all of my kids. (My favourite moment of the day, incidentally, is seeing our one-year-old daughter's reaction when I step in through the door in the evening, but that's another story).
Think about it: my children see their mum all day, and - despite how hard she works to feed and entertain them - they're too young to appreciate all she does. Then I come bounding in after being absent for so long like a long-lost relative on 'Surprise, Surprise' and start winding them up, telling jokes, wrestling on the floor, and so on; and it's that novelty factor that I think is contributing to Noah's undying love for me.
(It could just be that I'm a good parent, but I'm really not sure that's true. I'm almost certain it's the novelty thing.)
Experience tells me that this is just a temporary affection. Isaac - our eldest - went through a similar phase, and now he's a complete mummy's boy. Soon enough Noah will be running past me into the arms of his mum, and I'll be the one standing there all awkwardly like someone who's just gone to shake someone else's hand and has been left hanging.
On second thoughts, then, there's really no need to find some kind of solution to this situation. Maybe I should just enjoy it while it lasts.
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW PARENTS
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more