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Bittersweet Progress

Sometimes, Simon gets something right, and Matt and I feel terrible about it.

Take the whole “papa” thing. Matt decided he wanted to be called “papa” before Simon was ever born. But from the moment he began speaking, Simon called Matt “daddy.” This papa/daddy squabble went on for months, with both sides entrenched in their positions. Then one day this fall, sometime around the blur that it is the holidays, Simon called Matt “papa” for a full day… consistently.

And Matt felt… awful. As did I! The minute Simon uttered “papa,” the word suddenly felt tainted by the campaign required to produce it. We felt we had manhandled Simon, even though neither of us had laid a hand on him. It’s hard to explain, to be honest, except to say that once we heard him use a word not of his habit or choosing, we both felt some guilt over our heavy handed approach.

We never corrected him again. And the next day, when Simon called Matt “daddy,” we repeated the word as though it had always been the one in use. I guess we decided that the word Simon chose for Matt was more special than the one Matt chose for himself.

Now we’re in a similar situation, only there will be no reversing course. Yesterday, Simon used the word “red.” And today, when he asked for water, he asked for it in the “red” cup clear as day. I think, rather sadly, I may not hear “dee-dee” for red much longer. As it’s been such a constant feature of his toddlerhood, I will miss it very much.

It’s not just that “dee-dee” sounds cute, though of course that’s a part of it. It’s that the story behind it is rather endearing. Simon’s first month at KIP, the theme color was red. He came home one day with a flier of theme-related song lyrics, and the only song I could quickly figure out was the red song. It was sung to the tune of Frere Jacques, and it went like this:

R-E-D red, R-E-D red

I can spell red. I can spell red.

Fire trucks are red. Stop signs are red, too.

R-E-D. R-E-D.

I began to sing it from the passenger seat, and Matt could see Simon’s face light up in the rear-view mirror. He was astonished and delighted that we knew something from school. And at the very end of the song, he joyously repeated the last part of the song back to us, “dee.” And then again, “dee.” And from that day on, “red” has been “dee-dee” in our house.

It’s a silly little thing. But so, I’m finding, are many of the most endearing parts of parenthood, and I’m going to miss it terribly.

One Response to “Bittersweet Progress”

  1. bethnbobinnc says:

    I know what you’re talking about. Evan used to always say “taint-tew, a-welcome” for thank you. When he stopped adding “a-welcome” to the end I was really sad. He had finally figured out that was the other person’s line! It was so sweet. Don’t worry, though. Drew still says “butsept” for except and I don’t correct him. You’ve got a few more years to enjoy Simon’s quirky take on the English language. :)

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