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From early days, Matt decided he wanted to be called “papa.” To reinforce this, we used the word a lot in our regular goings on. We talked about “papa”, played peek-a-boo with “papa” and labeled Matt as “papa” in pictures with Simon.

Simon, however, had other ideas. As soon as he mastered ‘mama’, he began calling Matt “daddy”. Actually, he called him “da-da”, “da-di” or “ya-gi” pretty indiscriminately, but a “papa” was never heard.

In the face of this defiance, Matt held firm. He still called himself “papa”. He still labeled photos as “papa”. Heck, he even renamed all the “daddies” in our books to be “papas”.

No dice. Simon consistently, in a tone reserved for Matt alone, would look up at Matt with an impish smile and gleaming eyes and call out “da-di”. I thought Matt’s insistence on being called “papa” was funny, but I also though he was fighting a losing battle.

“Listen honey,” I’d say. “Your baby loves you. He’s got a special word just for you, he only uses it for you, and that word is ‘daddy’. You’re going to have to let this ‘papa’ thing go.”

“But I’m ‘papa’,” Matt would reply. “And where did he get ‘daddy’ from anyway? We’ve never used that word.”

“Whatever, honey. You’re ‘daddy’ now. Give it up.”

We’ve had this conversation, in more or less the same words, every day for several months now. It even became a little game with me. I knew that I could get a rise out of Matt by faux innocently referring to him as ‘daddy’.

About two weeks ago, the game lost it’s charm. Because Simon finally looked up at Matt and called him “papa”? you ask. No. Because for the past two or three weeks Simon has been calling me “dada” with alarming consistency. To which I reply, in an all-too familiar refrain, “No honey, it’s ‘mama’. I’m ‘mama’.”

Last Thursday when I picked him up from Jim and Evie’s, Simon took one look me, burst into the biggest smile I’ve ever seen, and yelled out, “Yay! Dada!”

I’m sure Matt put him up to this.

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