Friday, May 9, 2008

The First Rule: It ain't Daddy, Sonny

This initial post comes as our son hits his first fortnight of life, and finds us struggling over the big question: Should we be calling ourselves 'Mum and Dad', or 'Pa and Ma', or 'Momma and Pops', or what have you?

There isn't really much debate on the mother's side of things (Ma, Momma and Mum are surely much of a muchness), but things are more interesting on the other side of the parental fence. Granted, 'Dad' seems to be in fashion these days - assuming an English-speaking household - but certain weaknesses seem evident:

(1) 'Dad' is too pervasively in fashion. There's something to be said, surely, for inoculating one's child against perpetually sailing with the prevailing wind: Why not start with something he'll notice even in nursery school... to whit, that his friends evince a peculiar sameness in the parental-addressing department.

(2) Dad morphs too easily to 'Daddy', which is dual-syllabic and effeminate if weakly-enunciated. There's even the tri-syllabic monstrosity, 'Daddy-o', which might remind one of either a wobbly dessert or outsized spiders.

(3) Tagging oneself 'Dad' gives the father almost no chance in the Baby's-first-word stakes - that is, the race to see which parent first gets recognisably called. It's usually 'Momma', one understands, for reasons to do with the makeup of the jaw or tongue or language or whatever, but 'Poppa' or some derivative isn't too far off the mark. 'Dad', on the other hand, hasn't a cat in hell's chance. Though we do know of a close relative whose son's first word (or phrase) was, 'Thank you'.

So 'Pa' it shall be, along with 'Ma' and its derivatives, as we refer to ourselves in feedings, diaper-changes and sundry interactions in the child's presence.