b Papa Dog's Blog: Daddy

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Monday, April 18, 2005


Okay, it’s just one word and who knows if it really was a word or just a twist on the pronunciation of her usual “dada” caused by the crying jag she was experiencing at the time, but if you think an hour has gone by today when I didn’t stop and recollect Baby Dog’s first “Daddy,” you haven’t been paying attention. There’s something to that whole concept of the magic of a name, like in Rumpelstiltskin, or stories about demons that I only half remember and learned from comic books anyway. Baby Dog has discovered my secret name – not that big a secret really, since I’ve been trying to teach it to her since before she was born, but still – and by invoking it she has gained great power. I say that lightly, but there’s truth to it.

For one thing, with that one word she has effectively altered my sense of self. I was accustomed to being a daddy, yeah, but on some level our use of the word has still retained vestigial quotation marks. There’s irony in its use. It’s a bit of a goof. It’s what I am, yeah, and you could do a DNA test to prove it, but I’ve spent so much of my life being so not a daddy, it’s hard to remain one hundred percent in earnest on all occasions. There’s always been a little bit of “What, me Daddy?” behind every “Daddy’s home!” and “Come to Daddy” and “Daddy’s going to clean your bum* now, Sweetie.” Once Baby Dog said “Daddy,” that all changed. She was not riffing. There was no self-referential distance. She was just saying my name. You just can’t be “Daddy” anymore when your child tells you that you’re Daddy.

For another thing, she was defining the relationship. She was saying specifically that I am her Daddy. It’s one thing for Mama Dog and me to know that. It’s quite another for Baby Dog to tell us unequivocally that she knows it too. She was staking a claim, announcing expectations. “You must do something about this unhappy state of affairs wherein I languish ever so long in the high chair. You are Daddy, and you must act on my behalf.” She was entering a verbal agreement, Daddyhood carrying as it does obligations in both directions. I am expected to be on call to take care of her in any way necessary forever and ever. She is expected to know that I’m her Daddy. I’m still high on it, I suppose, but it seems a fair trade.
*I confess there are even quotation marks on my use of “bum” after nearly twenty years in these United States. But she doesn’t need to know that for a while.


Blogger Judy said...

It is a totally awesome feeling, isn't it? I remember when my oldest first looked at my husband and called him da-da...I think I was more thrilled than he was!

And, da-da is what I have been drilling in the wee one's head now, too. Ma-ma is good, too, but to see the look on my husband's face and the connection between the two of them means more to me than anything.

Congrats on a warm fuzzy moment that will stay with you forever!

8:21 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home