It’s happened to me a couple of times now already. And it’s been weird. And, I know, it’ll happen again, and that there’s nothing I can do about it. Yes, it’s true—I’ve called my wife, Jean, by my daughter’s name.
There are, I think, reasonable psychological explanations for this embarrassing slip. Usually, it happens when I’m speaking in an instructional or explanatory tone—the voice I use when speaking to Sasha. Not that I’m talking to Jean like I would to a child… Or maybe I am?
At the same time, 2-year-old Sasha has started to occasionally refer to me and her mother as “Matt” and “Jean.” It’s very cute, even though it’s not what we wanted—it’s somehow confusing and weird. In fact, Jean and I try very hard, in Sasha’s presence, to refer to each other as Mommy and Daddy—which is also weird. I don’t even call my own mother Mommy, and now that’s what I’m calling my wife? A little too Oedipal for me, thank you very much.
What amazes me, though, is how Sasha has picked up this information. That is, when she says “Jean,” she says it exactly how I’d say it in Sasha’s presence—not a relaxed, drawn-out sound but tight and clipped and quiet, spoken so that the child in the room won’t quite catch it. But catch it she did, as she’ll continue to pick up and reinterpret all the little things that surround her, and in the end show us how silly we can sometimes be.