Thursday, September 01, 2005


The other mother

Maybe this is just a thing that 19-month-old kids do. Maybe it's a genetic tendency in our family. But I can't help taking it personally.

Simon calls both Beloved and I "mama" interchangeably.

Now, I must admit straight out that I've called him by his brother's name possibly more often than I've used his name correctly. I'm most likely to call him "Trst-Simon!" and his brother "Si-Tristan!" Why the right child's name is never on the tip of my tongue I have no idea. And although my Granny only had three grandchildren, I don't think she once got the right name out of her mouth the first time. Even Tristan exhibits signs of this odd disorder, often calling out "Daddy! um -- Mommy!" as he processes who is most likely to be within hearing range. It's obviously a familial tendency to misname the people we love.

So it hardly seems surprising that Simon has come up with his own solution to the problem and calls both Beloved and I "mama". But it bugs me. I put in a lot of effort eliciting those couple of syllables. After I spent months and months of suggesting "Mama" to each of his happily babbled "Da-da-da"s, it seems he is now overcompensating.

I'd like to think that Beloved staying home with the boys all summer while I worked had nothing to do with this, but of course it has everything to do with it. I'm quite sure the only reason it bothers me is that I'm already insecure about my role in the family. Simon's got it figured out that the one who spends the day at home with the children gets to be Mummy.

So do I at least get to be Daddy? Nope, that's what he calls Tristan. He is one confused toddler. At least he gets the dog's name right on a regular basis.