I love you Daddy. That’s what my oldest triplet has been hitting me with for the last couple of days. If he wasn’t my son, I might be moved by such an open and random declaration of affection. But he is my son, and this is an obvious attempt at emotional manipulation and I am not fooled.

I’ll admit, the first few seconds after he first hit me with the ILYD, I may have turned into some vague form of human putty, but the brain got smart when the heart played stupid. I mean I saw how he said what he said, all doe-eyed and sweet and thrown over his left shoulder. It was nothing to him, because he went right back to playing whatever game he was playing on the iPad.

I knew then that he was playing me, but I just wasn’t sure what his angle was. Was it the fact that he was sitting there playing games on the iPad when he was really supposed to be banned from it? Or maybe it was some pre-emptive butter-up for for some future related fiasco, like another destroyed ceiling fan, or a package of Oreo’s consumed for breakfast, or bringing a fresh pile of poo in his pants to me with the words “I boo-booed.” spoken in a deadpan/matter of fact tone.

He’s also been saying it randomly to his mother, his brothers, and his sisters, building goodwill shotgunning these “I love you’s” all willy nilly. I might believe this kid if it weren’t for all the misery he puts (and will continue to put) me through, but then again, maybe I should take these while I can get ’em. Collect them now and put them away for one of those days when he tells me what a jackass of a father I’ve been. I’ll be able to pull one of those vintage ILYD’s circa 2014 out and think about how I doubted it back then, and now, it’s the best thing ever.