“No, Buddy, I just told you, your sister is reading that,” I said, prying the coveted Elmo’s ABC Book from his hand, prompting an eloquent baby cuss reply.
Sighing heavily, I returned the pillaged book to my daughter, who kicked jubilantly, as the plot was really heating up around “Q is for quilt” and she was on the edge of her seat on the playroom floor, just dying to see what letter was next.
I turned back to my thieving son. “Buddy, you have five books already. Why don’t we read one of those?”
My son approaches playtime the same way I envision Napoleon Bonaparte would at one year old. Whenever he’s decided what to play with, he desperately needs that toy genre’s entire collection. If it’s blocks, they all simply must encircle him. If it’s books, he needs a shelf-full at his disposal. I’m quite certain that if he were aware of Pokemon, he would not rest until adequately “catching ’em all.”
Thus, if the parent-on-duty does not facilitate total toy acquisition, we can expect a fiery rage turning his skin green and inflating his muscles to three times their normal size, ironically tearing his Incredible Hulk t-shirt to shreds.
My wife and I had narrowly escaped the house with the Twins intact. We’d fed and bathed them in a hurry so we could make it on time to Thanksgiving 2: This Time, It’s Leftovers at my wife’s mother’s house, and were now en route, listening to the soothing sounds of choral squawks from the back seat over the jingle-jangle of Arizona’s perpetual Christmas music radio station.
Glancing downward at her leg, my wife felt her jeans. “My knee’s still wet from when I pulled him out of the tub and dried him,” she chuckled.
“Yeah, well, that’s better than finding poo smears on your sleeve.” I’d had to change my shirt after changing Twin diaper loads.
“Can you imagine how awesome it’s going to be when the kids can walk and we can just tell them to step out of the tub themselves?”
“Yeah, that’ll be nice.” I mused. “But that also means they’ll be able to step out of the tub whenever they want.”
“…Nuh-uh. We’ll hold them down or something.” But even she herself didn’t sound convinced.
I eyed her with a grin. “Mo’ money, mo’ problems, babe.”
I recently received the highest honor WordPress bestows upon its bloggers–“Freshly Pressed.” For those of you who don’t know, that means one of my posts was featured on the WordPress homepage, affording hundreds of thousands of bloggers the convenient privilege of experiencing the genius that is this fine publication.
The post, titled “Did He Just Say What I Think He Said?”, was about my son saying “Dada” for the first time, possibly because of Chuck Norris. I can only assume The Man Himself received word of this post and flexed a bicep ever so slightly, causing a chain reaction in the cosmos resulting in a WordPress employee stumbling upon Twinfamy, sharing it with colleagues, and culminating in a celebratory cheering-at-desks-and-cubicles scene akin to Jim Lovell & Co. returning to Earth’s atmosphere in Apollo 13.
The response was overwhelmingly amazing, and if you’re a new Loyal Reader as a result of this National Holiday, welcome.
But that’s not the reason I’m writing this post.
I am thrilled to announce that the tale of my son’s alleged first word has inspired the production of a movie…starring Legos.
Earlier this week I expressed my affection for Legos, and as soon as the Twins are old enough, you can bet we’ll breathe life into the finest Lego structures this world has ever seen. If there’s anyone who’s fueled this anticipation, it’s my friend John Willey, a multi-talented writer, photographer, and Lego aficionado. His blog Daddy’s in Charge? is one of my favorites, brimming with humor, reflections on being a stay-at-home dad, and highly entertaining Lego movies about his life raising his two sons.
I am ecstatically honored to be part of John’s latest Lego opus, his response to the Legend of the Chuck Norris “Dada,” which features the Twins and Yours Truly in plastic Technicolor.
I was a little apprehensive about being temporarily transformed into a Lego figure for the day we shot this, and even more concerned that the Twins would also be making this transformation.
For instance, would there be any long-term side-effects? In the event of an accidental dismantling, would all the King’s Horses and Men be on hand to remedy the situation, and if so, have they learned from the infamous Humpty-Dumptygate Scandal? In the end, though, I just couldn’t turn down the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with Lego Chuck Norris.
And believe me, everything they say about him…it’s ALL true.
Plus, who knew Chuck Norris was responsible for other children’s first words?
Well, Chuck Norris did, of course, but I didn’t. What a guy, huh? Not only does he keep the Earth spinning by trimming his beard (so it doesn’t throw off the gravitational pull) and prevent zombie apocalypses before scientists can even get out their chemistry sets–the guy still finds time to give the gift of speech to babies! Such a class act. Someone get this man a Nobel Prize, or at least some frozen yogurt.
Anyway, thanks a kajillion to John for including us in this fantastic piece of Lego cinema. You can read his own post about this video here. I urge you to check out more of his fine work on Daddy’s in Charge? and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
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If not, expect a visit from Lego Chuck Norris. It will not be a friendly one.
“Mama. Mama. Mamamamama,” my wife enunciated steadily, in stark contrast to the hyperactive limb-chase she was currently undertaking–attempting to get my son’s frantic arms and legs into his pajamas.
“Thhhhhhhhhh,” he replied, creating a froth of his patented saliva bubbles.
“I think he almost got it that time,” I snarked from the rocking chair, with my daughter riding lap jockey.
Ever since my son said “Dada” for the first time (possibly because of my Chuck Norris t-shirt), my wife has been working on “Mama” with both kids, with little apparent success.
Bathtime had gone swimmingly and we were now preparing the Twins for bed. Typically, we each bathe and dress one kid, alternating them every other bath. That way, we both have equal opportunities at the completely polar-opposite bathing experiences my son and daughter have to offer. In order to better illustrate the differences, I will analogize with everyday beverages you can find around the house.
Washing our daughter is a fairly low-energy endeavor–she’s content to sit and simply enjoy the aquatic epidermal sensation. If my daughter’s bathtime were a libation, it would be a glass of fine wine–one drank at the end of a long day and savored slowly because it was so freaking expensive.
On the other hand, my son is more of a Red Bull tallboy. Put this strapping young lad in the tub and brace yourself (and him) for Olympic-sized splashes, incessant scuba diving attempts, and the golden eruption of Old Faithful. We’ve found that one hand on him at all times is the best practice, as well as mentally preparing oneself for an action sequence that would overwhelm even Michael Bay before plunging into Splash Mountain.
My wife had braved the one-boy-monsoon on this particular night, while I had handled my daughter, who, now that she was in her pajamas and NOT yet drinking The Bottle That Always Comes After Pajamas, was getting antsy.
“It’s not quite time yet, Baby Girl,” I cooed. “Hey, I have an idea. Let’s look at these animals.”
Sitting her down in the rocking chair and kneeling in front of her, I surveyed the stuffed animals congregating on the floor next to me and selected her jumbo pink Sock Monkey, which is about twice her size. She cocked an eyebrow and wrinkled her forehead, unsure about all this whole not-drinking-a-bottle business.
I nudged Pink Sock Monkey’s head in perfect cadence as I spoke in what I imagine a Pink Sock Monkey’s voice would sound like–just a few notches below falsetto.
Hi there little girl! I’m Pink Sock Monkey! I sure am hungry–do you happen to have any Pink Sock Bananas?
Get your mind out of the gutter, O Loyal Reader.
In one motion, my daughter spun away from the monkey, looked right at me, and held my gaze while batting the peripheral pink primate out of view, as if to say, “Why are you bullsh!tting me, Dad?”
I heard my wife cracking up behind me. “Smart little girl.”
Letting my ill-conceived ventriloquist dummy fall back into the pile, I chuckled and picked her up. “I guess nothing gets by you, huh?”
It was then that she swung her arm and delivered a tiny face-five to my nose.
My wife stifled a laugh.
“Thhhhhhhhhh,” bubbled my son, sporting a squinty grin.
“Babababababa,” asserted my daughter. We’re not sure if her undying love for bottles has prompted her to actually say “Baba,” if it’s just her favorite syllable, or both. Either way, with two strikes on me already, I figured I’d better swing away.
“Let’s go make some bottles, baby girl.”
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If not, remain vigilant for splashes and face-fives.
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!
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If not, remember that Chuck Norris is always watching. Nine of him.
Yeah, that’s what I thought.