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Mommy-Daddy

April 23, 2013

It started out inconspicuously enough.

When I picked the Doodle up from daycare at the end of the day, I was greeted by choruses of “Doodle’s mommy!” “Doodle’s mommy!”  Or if we ran into one of her chums in the parking lot on our way in or out of daycare, the other toddler would look at me and shout excitedly, “Doodle’s mommy!!!”

The Doodle is about 3-6 months younger than most of the kids in her class, and didn’t initially say anything at all about her peers’ parents. Cognitively, she just wasn’t there yet.

A few months ago it clicked.  Adults became ordered and matched with her friends.  This is the ultimate game of concentration. “Fairouz’s daddy!” “Calvin’s mommy!” “Julia’s daddy!!!”

Otto and I have a long history of working with kids from LGBTQ families, and in our experience, it didn’t really seem to matter to kids that had two moms or two dads or some other family combination until the age of 10.  Around that age, kids suddenly wanted to be like everyone else and it was key for many of them at that time to have their own network of kids who also had queer parents.  They wanted to have friends with families like theirs who got it.  They wanted friends who didn’t just have a heterosexual mommy and daddy headed household.  Developmentally, that’s totally on par with where one would expect a 10-year-old to be.

Given that this is my first time around on the toddler circus, I never really gave much thought to how a toddler, preschooler or young child would make sense of their world when it came to parents.  This was an apparent oversight on my behalf, because this is pretty big in the Doodle’s mind.

At first, she would look at her chums and ask, “Mommy mama?”

Since toddler syntax is limited, you only know it’s a question based upon the upswing at the end of the sentence.

This is when the Doodle became as cognitively developed as her peers and started to want to match adults and siblings to her friends.  She quickly caught on whose mommy was whose mommy.  And pretty soon daddies were in the equation, too.  I was kind of blown away that she seemed to grasp a family unit.

But this new worldliness was somewhat limited.  She understood Mommy-Mama, and Mama-Daddy or just one Mommy or just one Daddy, but she didn’t get Daddy-Daddy.  She didn’t believe that it was possible to have two men as parents.  She actually guffawed in disbelief and said, “No…!!!!” when I told her it was possible.

While our daycare is racially and culturally diverse, it’s pretty heterosexual.  We’re the only two mom family in our room, and friends of ours have their daughter down the hall, but we never see them.  Most of our two dad friends have older kids, so we don’t really hang out with them, but we hang out with lots of two mom families.

Over a couple of community events I intentionally introduced the Doodle to two dad headed families and she seemed to get it.  Yes, it is possible for someone to have a Daddy AND a Papa.  Parenting lesson complete.

I thought we mastered all of the very basic family configurations for toddler.  I thought we were golden.  Only then the Doodle began to ask about a daddy.  A daddy!  And not just any daddy, where was her daddy? She’d frequently ask “Doodle daddy?” with the now popular upswing inflection and a shoulder shrug.

The best answers for toddlers is usually the simplest answer.  Our stock response is that she doesn’t have a daddy, she has a mommy and a mama. Only I really think our toddler is gangbusters smart.

Now she’s asking which one of us is the daddy.  It’s phrased like this, “Gus-Mommy-Daddy?” or “Otto-Mama-Daddy?” (Yes, we taught her our first names and sometimes she randomly shouts those out, but usually in a really possessive way as if to affirm that yes indeed that’s my mommy).

Today she’s pretty insistent that she has a Mommy-Daddy, which has somehow become me. And she thinks it’s hilarious.  Because now if you ask her if she has a daddy, she no longer shouts, “No!!! Mommy-Mama!”  She grins and says, “Gus-Mommy-Daddy,” and then giggles as she seems to innately know it’s a loaded question that’s imbued with some comedy in our household.

Let’s just say I’m not the butchier of her two moms.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. April 24, 2013 7:57 am

    LOL, this was an awesome post and something I am sure we will be looking forward to in the near future. I like your last line, it resonates with me. Our Punky called me Dada for the longest time. It was kind of hilarious. She didn’t really know what she was saying, but she did use the word specifically for me. I just thought it was cool she had a name for me! Your kiddo sounds adorable!

    • April 27, 2013 8:50 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post!

      It’s funny how kids come up with names for their parents, or randomly come up with names for people or objects. The Doodle still calls her big sister by her nickname, even though she can say her real name now.

  2. April 24, 2013 2:28 pm

    I love toddler humor! They know things are funny but are so slapsticky about it. I am not sure Juju knows about daddies. If there is a daddy in one of her books we always change it to Papa, which is what she calls her grandpa. She’ll figure it out soonish, I suppose. We’ll just have to make sure she gets it before she goes to preschool at 3 and gets confused! I love that you’re the mommy-daddy. Silly girl. 🙂

    • April 27, 2013 8:51 pm

      More toddler slapstick humor! It’s the best.

      I’m gonna laugh when Juju starts to ask why the Papa in the book does X and her Papa does X!

  3. April 26, 2013 5:37 am

    I love the way toddlers crack themselves up. Bunny is not verbal enough for this game, but a recent favorite of his is running up to M’s chest as if about to nurse and then falling over in hysterical giggles.

    • April 27, 2013 8:53 pm

      That’s hysterical from my point of view, but I wonder why he thinks it’s funny. Like what part of the toddler brain assigns comedy to certain actions (obviously my adult brain thinks its hilarious for entirely different reasons)?

      The Doodle has a lot of inside jokes with just herself. That kinda cracks me up, too.

  4. April 26, 2013 1:51 pm

    It’s kind of fascinating how toddlers start working the world out, isn’t it? In our case, both of our children called us both Dada at the very beginning. It was like we were interchangeable.

    • April 27, 2013 8:57 pm

      So true! And then they get to that stage where only one person can do the thing they want at a certain point in time. They get so very specific, and it’s never consistent. Every time you think you can anticipate their demand, you can’t! Red cup, purple cup, blue cup with lid, water bottle, my water bottle, a glass? Oh I see your Mama has to give that to you the water from the tap after she’s flown the pink cup with no lid around the room while making a rocket ship noise. Sorry, I wasn’t clear that that’s what you needed!

  5. May 1, 2013 4:03 pm

    It’s so funny that I just stumbled onto this post today, because yesterday, Jaybird said to me very clearly (he’s 2.5): “Some boys have mamas. Some boys have daddies.” He’s starting preschool in the fall and we’ve done two visits so far, and somehow after these visits he has become alert to the family differences amongst his peers. Before this, though we’ve read various books that represent a wide range of families, he never said a word. Seemed indifferent. Laughed and called me “dada” a few times, but that was it. It’s a whole new world…

    • May 2, 2013 8:06 am

      Isn’t it incredible how the toddler brain works? It’s as if one day they’re entirely oblivious and the next day something clicks and there’s a whole new little human being in there.

Trackbacks

  1. I Have Two Mommies, Too! | One Urban Nest
  2. Excerpts From a Toddler’s Reading of The Family Book | One Urban Nest

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