It’s just not fair that it’s easier for you to say dada than mama. I mean, I’m fine with you saying it. I’m THRILLED that you say it, but can’t I get a little recognition too? Come on, Sophie, throw me a bone.
Okay. Okay. You don’t have to rub it in.
Actually, it’s not that she never says mama. She does. It’s always in a desperate moment, just before she starts hyperventilating, as she comes lunging at me, her eyes trained on the area just below my neck, welling, “Mamamama!.” Or if she’s pulled herself up against the ottoman, is reaching for my laptop, and suddenly she’s down, headfirst, “Mamamama!” I don’t think she yet associates the word with me. I think it’s much more reflexive and visceral than that. Mamamama stands for comfort.
Dadaddada means fun. It’s her curiosity as she picks through the laundry basket and sucks on my dirty sweatpants. It’s her wonder as she pulls up to the dishwasher and rolls the bottom rack back and forth. It’s her joy as she slams the plush head on the floor. It’s her anticipation as she makes her way across my bed to a pile of books.
In many cultures, “mother” is some variation on “mama” and “father” is a permutation of “dada.” It is a chicken or egg argument, but it seems to me that we have shaped these infant utterances in accordance with our culturally-sanctioned gender-defined roles.
Why can’t I be dada?