I’ve never really thought of myself as a sensitive Sally, though, like everyone I have the capacity to be – especially at THAT time of the month, just don’t tell my husband I admitted to that. I guess I just, have the odd “off” moment like everybody, but by and large, I’m not a sensitive soul and will take most things as they come, especially with parenting.
That’s what I like to think anyway.
One thing that has always stuck in my mind is an experience I had with a (at the time) good friend’s husband and his attitude towards Reuben during a rather amusing yet embarrassing phase of Roo’s toddlerhood. I’m reminded of it in particular now because Edie has started to use words, or try to, especially in that adorable baby babble that everyone wants to encourage and coo over.
The story goes like this: when Roo was a toddler, maybe 19/20 months, he went through a phase of calling every man “dada”. Now, some people thought it was cute, others laughed and took the opportunity to crack a joke and only one guy took offence. I know, your probably like me thinking how the fuck could you take offence at that? What special level of douchebag do you have to be to be upset by a 20 month old innocently calling you “Dada”. Well, apparently my (at the time) dear friend’s husband was the perfect level. When Toby was 6 weeks old I took my (hormonal) self and the kids over to my friend’s house for coffee and cake, and to introduce her and her daughter to my new bambino. On that particular day her husband, who she herself had mentioned wasn’t very social, was working from home. We were sat enjoying our cake and coffee, cooing over Toby and occasionally jumping up to stop the toddlers from causing themselves major harm in the kitchen, when her husband came into the kitchen to pour himself a drink. I’d met him s few times and he was pleasant enough, quiet but friendly. He smiled at Roo and said hi, and Roo immediately looked at him and said “Dada”. I just laughed, I was so used to hearing it and so used to men making the oh-so-hilarious quip of “Ooooh, I don’t think so… Though there was that one time” wink wink, I guess I just didn’t think anything to it. I obviously corrected him, and said “No baby, this is **** he is ****’s dada. Can you say *****?” He couldn’t of course, but I explained he was going through a phase and we just corrected him with the persons name, or if it was hard we told him it’s a man, not a dada. As the morning went on, every time he wanted to show my friend’s husband something he would babble “A dada, a dada”… Until my friend’s husband stopped what he was doing and stood up, looking at me with what could only be called pure annoyance and demanded I tell my son to stop calling him that please. He said it nicely enough, but I was surprised by the irritation at Reuben, he was only a baby. He left very quickly after that, ignored Roo when he said “bye, bye” (thankfully without the dada!!), stomping off to his garage. We left about 10 minutes later after things became pretty frosty.
It all seems very silly, doesn’t it? You might notice I mentioned this was a friend of mine “at the time” once or twice, because after that I rarely saw her. I would occasionally invite her to mine, but we had already started to drift and I wasn’t going to make the effort with someone who didn’t really want to make it with me either. I was NEVER invited back to her house. Ever.
It’s funny the things that make us feel small, and like we’ve done something worthy of embarrassment, can colour our future as parents just as much as the mini triumphs. After that I would feel genuinely uncomfortable if Roo called a random man “dada”, I hated it. It meant I spent hours teaching him the word man so that he could say “man” to everyone, though he always knew Adam was “dada”. Maybe that was a case of me being a sensitive sally, I don’t know, I just know that the whole experience is one of those parenting moments that has stuck with me, and not really in a positive way.
Im not suggesting that it has spoiled my excitement when I hear Edie saying “dada” but I do feel that rather than looking back on that phase of Reuben’s life and smiling at how amusing it was, I instantly go back to that moment feeling so cringeworthy and embarrassed.
Do you have a moment, good or bad, that changes the way you feel about your child’s actions, or that maybe colours your thoughts of children’s behaviour?