Driving Dad Mad: What Does Your Kid Call You?

October 19th, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  7 Comments

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?


  1. Christine says:

    October 20th, 2011at 9:28 am(#)

    My 3 year old just started doing the same thing with me. Being called “mom” makes me feel like I have an exasperated teenager already. We are not bilingual, though we do have some nicknames. I wondered if it was something he was picking up from books read in daycare, or even other children.

  2. Matt says:

    October 20th, 2011at 11:17 am(#)

    Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if our kids were picking these things up from other kids. Sasha almost definitely switched to “Mama” because she heard one of her friends at school saying that. But where did that kid pick it up? Is this some infectious strain of insouciance passed from toddler to toddler in secret?

  3. Libby Dougan says:

    October 21st, 2011at 7:41 am(#)

    One of our sons (Sam, I think) when he was about three, started calling his dad “The Big Man”… as in “When will The Big Man be home?” It cracked us up, and sort of stuck. Later we found out that the village head in a lot of tribal cultures is called “The Big Man” (language variations thereof). Not sure what motivated Sam, although he was about 36 inches tall at the time and Bill is 6″4″…

  4. Paul says:

    October 23rd, 2011at 6:15 am(#)

    I live in a country (Georgia) where children commonly call their parents by their name. I have no problem with that. We never got into the habit of referring to ourselves in the 3rd person and have left our daughter, who is 1 1/2, choose what she wants to call us. She picked “mama” for her mother a while back, while I had been nothing until month ago, when she designated me with name of “Bobby,” although my name is Paul. It’s fine and cute now and I suppose I have nothing to worry about until she decides to start calling me Bob.

  5. dadwagon says:

    October 24th, 2011at 11:05 am(#)

    @Libby: that is definitely going to be what my kids are forced to call me from now on. Although, being sub-6′, it’s not necessarily true. Who cares? Would still make me feel good.
    @Paul: Bobby is a much more fitting name for you. I think your girl knows you better than your parents did. Well done, toddler!

  6. Surfer Jay says:

    November 3rd, 2011at 12:48 am(#)

    My 3.75 yo calls me Jay. Yep. Calls me b y my name, always has. Well, there was a good motnth there where my wife was yelling at me all the time, when the boy was just turning 2, so my name got branded in his head and since then that’s all he calls me. What can ya do…

  7. Zimba Uy says:

    November 21st, 2011at 7:12 pm(#)

    Funny thought how my 2 years old son called me by name.Especially when his angry.

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