There is a moment that every Daddy waits for.
Typically (or stereotypically, if you’d prefer), Mommy is the all-star. The intensity of the mother-spawn connection is undeniable. After spending nine months living inside of her plus the primal closeness of breastfeeding, dads often feel they are second string in many respects. While there are families with stay-at-home male superheroes like me, I would argue that even then, there is just something cosmically unique about the bond between mother and baby with which fathers just can’t compete.
However, every dad–whether a working dad, a stay-at-home dad, a combination of the two, or some other option I can’t think of–waits for one special, magical moment. A moment he can truly call his own. A moment when his loinfruit shines the spotlight solely on him, and it becomes completely okay for him to ham it up–even in front of Mommy. A moment he is verbally singled out by his offspring as The Man in Charge, the Go-To Guy, the Master of the Universe. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the first-ever time his baby identifies him aloud as “Dada.”
This landmark occurrence is mind-blowingly amazing in its own right–it signifies language acquisition and adds a new, verbal layer of connection between parent and child. But–at least in English-speaking households–it also gives Dad a little ego boost as it usually happens before “Mama.” Call it a purely phonetic phenomenon if you like, moms. We’re well aware that the “D” sound is easier to make than “M” and we don’t care, because when we hear that inaugural “Da” amidst the babble, we know the wait is almost over. We’re going to beat you in just this one thing. And that’s okay.
At the same time, this anticipation can get us a little carried away. For instance, some over-excited dads rule the initial, randomly-stumbled-upon, mid-babble “Dada” as The First. Never mind that the alleged “Dada” wasn’t even in the room and the kid was engrossed in turning an expensive board book into paper pudding before he can even fully grasp its content (money well spent). Yet, the first time they hear these two chance syllables in succession, some dads are on Facebook in seconds flat, telling the world that the “Dada” has dropped.
Settle down, Beavis. Sure, I’ve had these moments, too, but to me, this is an inauthentic “Dada.”
Since the Twins arrived, I’ve been telling myself I would not claim to be dubbed Dada prematurely, and was proud with my performance when we first heard my son say:
“Did you hear that?” my wife enthused. “He said Dada!”
“Yeah,” I replied, skeptical. “Not really, though.”
See, in my opinion, the Official Dada Ruling should be one in which the child actually seems to be addressing or identifying Dada, an intentional utterance instead of an accidental baby-babble snippet. This is when you know your child has joined Team Dada.
Which brings me to my most legendary announcement since The Unveiling of Twinfamy Logo 2.0:
On Monday, August 29, 2011, around 7:45 am, my son welcomed me into the Dada Ranks…I think. Maybe. I don’t know. Well, here’s what happened.
I had put my daughter down for the morning’s first nap and was now changing my son’s diaper before shipping him, too, off to Dreamland. The whole time, he stared up at me with an admiring half-smile. As I affixed the new diaper’s Velcro and pulled his pants back on, he looked me dead in the eye and said, “Dada.”
Chills. Butterflies. Skepticism. More chills. Imaginary Disney-movie animal sidekicks cheering.
Did he just say what I think he said?
He launched into a squinty-eyed giggle and I joined him, encouraging him on a job well done, and reinforcing, “That’s RIGHT, Buddy! I’m your Dada!”
As the festivities drew to a close, I rocked him to sleep to the tune of my magically delicious baritone crooning “Bohemian Rhapsody,” cribbed him in super slow-motion so as to not wake him, and plopped onto the couch.
Did he just say what I think he said?
He looked right at me.
They were his only two syllables during the entire diaper transaction.
I then noticed the t-shirt I was wearing:
Was it because of the shirt? Was he calling Chuck “Dada” instead of me? Or did the nine majestic Norrises inspire him to call me “Dada”?
I needed a second opinion.
I unsheathed my cell phone and ran to the other side of the house to call my wife at work. (After five years as a teacher, I have a slight volume problem–I tend to over-project my voice, even when unnecessary, so I’ve learned not to talk on the phone during naptime.)
“Babe. I think…our son…just called me ‘Dada.'”
She later told me my unintentional dramatic pauses had her in a panic that something terrible had transpired. My bad.
I proceeded to relate the event in question and asked her if she thought we should “count” it.
Her response was incredibly supportive: “Why is he saying ‘Dada’ first? I pushed him out of me. Does he not remember that?”
I was pretty convinced it was For Real, but I’ve been waiting for an encore performance and he hasn’t done it since.
So now I don’t know what to think. Was it an intentional moment of clarity, possibly inspired by nine images of Chuck Norris, or was it just a coincidence?
Since I’m on the fence (but not a pointy one, thankfully), I’m going to outsource my opinion to you, O Loyal Reader.
What do you think? What are your Authentic Dada Verbalization Criteria? When did you decide the first “Dada” had dropped, prompting you to chronicle it in the Sacred Texts (baby book)?
Go ahead. Get your “comment” on.
Here’s some Jeopardy-style Dada-themed thinking music for you:
This post was Freshly Pressed by WordPress on September 7, 2011. Yay!
You may also enjoy:
If not, remember that Chuck Norris is always watching. Nine of him.
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
The moment I get both twins down for a nap is one of victory, invariably punctuated by a touchdown dance I’ve developed during my six-week career as starting Cry Receiver. It begins with the Running Man at a safe distance from 2nd (kid) Down, erupting into a Super Mario Brothers Fist-Raised Leap as I cross into the End Zone/Kitchen–during which I bump the ceiling, triggering a shower of Gilded Pacifiers–followed by the spike of a full baby bottle on the floor (empty ones don’t thud or bounce quite as badassly). I Raise the Roof with legs of Jell-O while willing myself not to White-Man’s-Overbite, and then, as I go into a little soft-shoe routine, die-hard face-painted fans, animal mascots, and cheerleaders emerge from drawers, cabinets, and Crock Pots, all remarkably donning the color of whatever spit-up-stained t-shirt I happen to be wearing. I sign the bottle with a Sharpie, fling it into the masses–who will argue for the ensuing two hours about who had it first–and launch myself into the Dawg Pound, crowd-surfing my way through high-fives.
Yeah, it’s a work in progress.
The “Holy Crap, a Nap Overlap!” Shuffle (working title) may seem a tad extravagant, but that’s because rarely does this occasion occur. Unlike many modern technologies, you cannot set twinfants to automatically synchronize. People often assume twins are uncannily in-tune. I definitely see yin and yang dynamics emerging, but my experience has shown that–as fraternal, boy/girl twins–they truly are two unique people, and with that comes unique sleep patterns. (I’ve heard identical twins tend more towards similar sleep habits but won’t at all claim to be an expert on that.)
It goes like this. My son, the Reigning Naptime Champion, usually conks right out, often even collapsing in his jumper or drifting off mid-teething-ring gnaw. My daughter, on the other hand, will show signs of tiredness, but will resist the falling asleep part at all costs. So after soothing, rocking, defiant de-socking, carrying, pacing, wide-awake goofy-facing, singing, swinging, pacifier flinging, and even laying her down to self-sooth until she’s so loud she’s about to wake her brother resulting in an fiery inferno of dual banshee shrieks, by the time I finally get her to sleep, I’ll often hear him waking from a 45-minute nap before I can even Mario Jump.
However, against these insurmountable odds, I usually manage to get them down at the same time once a day. This magical phenomenon, Daddy’s Time, allows me to do. Whatever. I. Want. It feels strangely similar to my parents letting me stay home alone while they ran errands, leaving my ecstatic mind reeling with unfathomable possibilities. Should I go through drawers? Blow out the stereo speakers? Snoop for Christmas presents?
So, once the crowd returns to their hiding places in appliances and cabinets, I am left alone with my thoughts, the most common of which are the following, in this order.
I first must harness the butterflies and giggling pink unicorns in my head and decide what I will do, because the clock is already ticking. A quick survey of the towering pile of dirty baby bottles, nipples and pacifiers in the sink, the full laundry hamper, and the labyrinth of play gyms on the floor reminds me that I simply must work on my next blog post because the idea is genius and will surely be the one to gain the attention of a publisher who will commission Twinfamy: The Book which will be optioned for Twinfamy: The Movie or possibly The HBO Series, which will in turn surely win a record-breaking amount of awards and acclaim, and I will be so wealthy that I can pay someone else to do the damn dishes, laundry, and tidying.
2. Oh, no! Don’t wake up yet!
Too often, I’ve begun The Shuffle prematurely. I’ll hear a youthful groan and an absolute hush falls across the stadium as we all spin towards the JumboTron to watch the baby monitor video feed. You could hear a grain of rice cereal drop as we await the child’s decision, willing him or her to drift back off.
Other times, I’ll be in the middle of something crucial, such as finally finishing the episode of Futurama I’ve been trying to watch during Daddy’s Time all week (since my wife dislikes cartoons, even stellar grown-up ones), or again, penning that all-important next post, but as I finally hog-tie a muse and the ideas come oinking out, I’ll hear a rustling. Oh, no, please God, just give me five more minutes…Or if you’re having a good day, twenty works for me, too…
It’s also at about this point in the day when my dog realizes she has the floor. “Hey! Wait a minute! Those little upstaging bastards are asleep! It’s my turn!” She’ll make a dog-beeline for the closet and return on a unicycle, juggling rawhide bones, and wearing a scrolling LED belt buckle that reads: “Come on, Dad! Let’s play fetch, and then you can rub my tummy, and then…” And so, once I see her enormous black eyes glimmer expectantly, I have about three seconds to stop her from whining, barking, or howling Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and waking the kids. Having given my poor, outshone-by-Twinfants canine some attention, I will then return to chores and/or Awesome Things. She’s usually fine with this until any sound whatsoever breaks the silence, prompting her to alert me via bark messaging that the air conditioning just clicked on, or the garbage truck has arrived, or that I have just closed the microwave, which brings me to…
4. How badly do I want to close this microwave?
Whether I’m finally nuking my first meal of the day or washing and steaming the aforementioned baby apparatus in our microwave sterilizer (neither of which I usually get around to until Nap Overlap), the microwave is a staple of Daddy’s Time. The problem, of course, it that it is impossible to close a microwave quietly. Don’t believe me? Go ahead, try. I’ll wait.
See? Told you. (My apologies if you’ve woken up napping children during Your Time.)
Even when I try to soften the blow with my fingertip as a silencer, I’m left with the same deafening bang and a sore finger. If this predicament were a movie trailer, it would go something like this:
In a world…
where silence MUST prevail…
on every slam.
Can YOU take the heat?
In theaters this Summer.
5. Did I brush my teeth today?
Now, before you get all grossed out, let me explain. I take morning coffee seriously, and carefully select blends I find to be delicious. However, the Tooth-Brushing/Coffee-Drinking Paradox dictates that brushing when I wake up causes the paste taste to linger and infiltrate my morning mug. I endured Minty Baking Soda Mochas for years via travel mug on my way to work, but can savor coffee with a clean palate now that I stay home.
The only caveat is the all-consuming nature of my “dayjob” sometimes causes me to forget to brush once the coffee’s done. All hail Daddy’s Time.
6. What did my wife tell me not to forget to do?
I knew it was something, and it must have been important, otherwise she wouldn’t have made a point to tell me. I think it had a “W” in it. I could ask her, but then she’ll know I forgot. Dammit.
Additonal Twinformation for New Parents
A 500-Disc DVD Special Edition Bonus Feature
My wife and I consider the microwave sterilizer I mentioned in Thought Number Four one of our best new-parent purchases. After a quick scrub and rinse in the sink, we throw them in this badboy, heat for 2 minutes, and play a Ring Toss/Horseshoes-style game to get them on the drying rack. I highly recommend this fine piece of equipment, especially over those disposable bags that burn the hell out of you every damn time and aren’t “effective” after X amount of uses.
You may also enjoy:
If not, that’s fine. Just please don’t wake up my kids.
It was the worst of times, it was the worstest of times, it was the age of projectile sneezing, it was the age of irrepressible coughing, it was the epoch of mucus, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was okay to use improper grammar while parodying famous literature, because it was hilarious, it was the summer of insomnia, it was the summer of despair, we had everything before us, we had viruses after us, we were all going direct to the doctor, we were all going direct to the pharmacy—in short, the period was so far from the present period, that some of its noisiest Twinfants insisted on its being blogged, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of awesomeness only.
For most of the month of June, my house was baby cold central. As I’ve mentioned previously (in Don’t Fear the Teether, and Think of the Children), my daughter was under the weather, forecasted by my wife and I as thundering storm clouds looming along the Pseudonymous front, and when the storm finally broke, it did, in fact, ignite several torrential weeks of snot-rocket downpours—from both kids.
I realize, O Loyal Reader, that by not following up on this storyline, I’ve left you with a cliffhanger as agonizing as a television-season-ending shocker, and that you’ve been waiting with bated breath for updates on my daughter’s state. For that I offer my sincerest apologies, and humbly ask you to put away that guillotine. Ironically, part of the reason for it is because so much has been happening since then that is worthy of sharing, but the all-consuming nature of caring for ailing Twinfants has kept me so busy that I have not had time (or, let’s face it, the energy) to chronicle these stories. But fear not. That ends right here and now, as Twinfamy has been “recalled to life” and returns to pseudo-continuity. In fact, this Twincident picks up right where Think of the Children left off, on the following day, a Monday.
Week the First – The Snot Still Rises
We had suspected my daughter of having a cold, and after visiting the doctor (for the second time in two weeks), it was confirmed.
“Looks like it’s viral,” our doctor reported, sporting the winning smile with which she breaks bad news, “So there isn’t much to do in terms of antibiotics or other prescriptions. Unfortunately, you’ll just have to ride this one out. Can you do that for me, little girl?” she asked my daughter, who—oh yeah, had been SCREAMING in protest for the last ten minutes while being examined.
My daughter paused a moment, blinked at the unexpected stimulus, and glared with recognition at the stranger who had just been poking at her while all she really wanted was Daddy to hold her, as if to say, Sleep with one eye open, tonight b!tch. She erupted again, drenching herself in a fresh concoction of tears and boogers. Poor baby girl.
“Some things you can try,” the doctor hollered over the tiny soprano, “are a humidifier, elevating her mattress, using saline nasal drops and extracting mucus with a bulb, and Tylenol if the fevers come back. Oh, and a little cowbell can’t hurt either,” she winked.
Well, my wife and I are kind of a big deal, so we’d already been doing all of these, and when I asserted our greatness, the doctor glowed. “Of course you are! You guys are so good. You’re doing a great job, Dad!” Aw, shucks.
I tried to remember this while braving the five-day scream-fest that ensued, as I split my attention between a miserable daughter who wanted nothing but to be held every second, and a son who became jealously aware of this about thirty seconds after I did. However, Daddy tender-love-and-cared the hell out of them both and we saw my daughter finally feeling better and returning to her happy, bubbly self by Saturday.
Week the Second – Calm in Storm
My daughter had beaten the snot out of her cold and had even taken its lunch money. As an added bonus, my son didn’t show any signs of catching it, either.
This week was drenched in Awesome Sauce, the ingredients for which have been shrouded in mystery for decades, despite tireless attempts by the world’s leading scientists and culinary experts. (Some speculate that Chuck Norris enforces its secrecy, but not out loud. That’s just asking for trouble.)
Week the Third – The Substance of the Nostril
Suddenly, out of nowhere (well, actually, his nostrils), my son began sneeze-launching cloud-white, stringy boogers and coughing uncontrollably. Some friends were visiting us that day, so we joked that he might be allergic to them while they were here, and seriously considered it once they left. The Twins had been sleeping from 7 pm to 5 am consistently prior to the sneeze-a-thon, but that night, we were reminded this was a newfound luxury as he woke up hourly, drowning in a salty sea of his own mucus.
Oddly, the next morning he was fine, as if nothing had happened—as if it were all a bad dream, very much akin to my unintelligent former seventh grader students’ thrilling short story resolutions. It quickly turned back into a nightmare, however, around 3 pm, when mucus-bearing missiles again assaulted my unsuspecting daughter and me. After another night of insomnia, a disheveled, zombie version of myself brought him to the doctor AGAIN, for our fourth visit in three weeks.
“Well, hello again!” Dr. RainbowsSunshineAndPinkBunnyRabbits beamed.
“So, I really think you should do a punch card promotion,” I enthused. “You know, like at a frozen yogurt place? I mentioned it to the receptionist, but she was not very receptive.”
She once again went through her anatomical surveillance procedure. Lungs, ears, temperature, cabin air filter, windshield wiper fluid—all good. Since both my wife and I have endured terrible allergies our whole lives, I consider myself an expert on all things allergy–a connoisseur if you will–and thus was pretty convinced my son was having an allergic reaction, possibly to our visitors or something outside. In retrospect, I had correlated both of his sneezing fits with bringing him outdoors. He loves to look at trees, so we’d been watching the ones in our backyard sway in the breeze just before my peeps showed up, and then the next day, I brought him out with me to check on the installation of a new windshield on my automobile. (Some bastard was hauling gravel in a pickup on the freeway and a piece chipped the glass right in my eyeline. It’s okay, though, because it was free. LikeagoodneighborStateFarmisthere!)
I knew I’d be asked about my son’s recent medical history, so I pulled my trusty ukulele out of the diaper bag and launched into “The Ballad of the Possible Allergy to Something Outside,” a twelve-minute opus I’d composed for the occasion, outlining all of the above. However, mid-seventh verse (just before it really starts to pick up) she politely stopped me to say something I did not know, which I will share with you because you are worthy: Since allergies are your body’s immune system rejecting certain things (which I DID know), you need a fully developed immune system to exhibit allergic reactions. However, babies don’t reach this point until 12-15 months out (which I did NOT know). Upon sharing this with our families, my wife’s mother–a practicing OB/GYN–swore she’d already told us this several days ago. We had no recollection, but if it was, in fact, said, I offered a speculative reason for our non-responsiveness. “But you weren’t wearing one of those white coats and a stethoscope when you said it.”
In the end, it turned out that my son had acquired his first cold, but not from my daughter, since he caught it so much later after she’d shaken hers. So again, we employed the same measures taken to heal my daughter just a few weeks hence, with Daddy iron-manning his way into a Daytime Emmy Nomination, sweating through several t-shirts a day and replenishing these precious bodily fluids by valiantly imbibing Samuel Adams Summer Ale once Mommy got home.
Soon (but not soon enough), by the middle of…
Week the Fourth – The Viruses Die Out Forever
…the viruses appeared to have died out forever.
Victorious, my son, daughter and I ceremoniously danced on their graves, mirthfully firing baby formula into the air. Later that day, right in the middle of Tummy Time, I received a personal call from President Obama on a Fisher Price Chatter Telephone, congratulating me on my victory.
My wife and I had survived the Twins’ first colds, and now have one less item on our “What the Hell Are We Going to Do When That Happens?” List. (Remaining items include “My Daughter Starting to Date” and “Oh Sh!t, They Can Reach the Counter.”)
And although it was a trying period, I never once considered seeking out a ne’er-do-well doppelganger to take my place, because whenever I think about being a father, I invariably conclude that it is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better experience that I am having than I have ever known.
A 500-Disc DVD Special Edition Bonus Feature
To commemorate the Five-Minute Anniversary of this Twincident, Twinfamy decided to do something special–a Behind-the-Scenes, Making-Of commentary, intended to be read simultaneously with the post itself, similar to the auditory director commentary of a motion picture.
This post alludes heavily to Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, one of my favorite novels. If you’ve never read it or were assigned to read it but only pretended to (like I did in high school the first time around) and don’t “get” why I worded things in a certain old-timey way, that’s probably why. However, I do recommend it and hereby make it the first official selection in Twinfamy’s Book Club, a tradition I am igniting because Oprah is a quitter. In fact, it can be read on your worldwide interweb device here. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Additionally, I do realize, O Loyal Reader, this Twincident is lengthier than usual, and yes, because it borrows from literature, is more high-brow than usual. But don’t worry, I still have plenty of poop and fart jokes up my sleeve (or another body part) and will be pulling them out in due time.
Or “doo” time.
You may also enjoy:
If not, it’s no reason to cut anyone’s head off.