The other night, things were proceeding as usual. Sasha had finished watching 愛探險的Dora (or, as you may know it, “Dora the Explorer”), had guzzled 8 ounces of warm milk, and had just had her teeth brushed by her mother. Then she raced down the hall to the living room, where I sat not writing my book, and screamed, “Daaaad!”
Now this was unusual. “Dad”? Not “Daddy”? In fact, though it was still unusual, it was becoming more common. At the ripe old age of almost-3, Sasha has graduated from Daddy to Dad.
Honestly, I’m not bothered by this, as some people would be. I’m just surprised. I mean, I think I was 9 before I made that switch—maybe even older. For me, the identities of my parents were fixed: Mommy was Mommy, Daddy was Daddy. I couldn’t think of them any other way.
Maybe it’s because Sasha’s growing up bilingual that she understands one person can have multiple names. Mommy is becoming Mama, and not only am I now Dad but I’m also sometimes “Maddy,” which is either a corruption of “Matty,” which Jean sometimes calls me, or Sasha’s starting to say “Mommy” and switching mid-word to “Daddy.” Even Sasha recognizes that she has multiple names: We’ve been reciting her many nicknames as we walk home from school (Sashala, Sashenka, Sasha-Pasha, Pochette, and so on), and when Sasha’s speaking Chinese she’ll refer to herself as Sa-Sa, a more language-appropriate pronunciation.
Still, though, I have the sense that this is weird. Is it just me? Would other people be bothered by a toddler addressing them as Mom or Dad? Is Sasha going to be calling me Matt by the age of 6?