Mazzy's first word was "HI". She practically exited the womb shouting friendly greetings to the nurses. Her second word was "BOO". "BOO" is what she calls her blankie— short for peek-a-boo. Clever, right? But it's her third word that is her favorite. Her third word has become her word for the sun, the moon and all the stars inbetween. Her third word was none other than "DA-DA".
Saying "DA-DA" before "MA-MA" is supposedly par for the course. Every parenting book says that babies have an easier time pronouncing the "DA" sound than the "MA" sound. As a result, babies usually say "DA-DA" first having nothing to do with who they are addressing. So I tried not to let it feel like the baby was calling me out on my lack of parenting skills.
Well. It quickly became clear that Mazzy knew exactly to whom she was referring. When she wakes up in the morning, even though I am usually Responder #1, the first words out of her mouth are— "DA-DA!" And no, she is not calling me "DA-DA" by mistake. Her tone is not "Nice to see you". It is more like "Take me to your leader!" Plus, she accompanies her demand with a finger pointed straight for our bedroom. And as soon as she catches the first glimpse of my husband (still in bed), her tone switches from demanding to triumphant. "DA-DA!!!"
Who am I?
Mazzy then informed me (in so many words) that she would not have the bandwidth to focus on "MA-MA", until she had perfected "DA-DA" into the more proper form of "DA-DEE". And then once she got it down, she began her favorite new pastime— saying it in quick succession. Mike will pour a bowl of cereal— "DA-DEE! DA-DEE! DA-DEE!" He'll sort the mail. "DA-DEE! DA-DEE! DA-DEE!" He'll put his coat in the closet. "DA-DEE! DA-DEE! DA-DEE!" Like he is her favorite sport's team and his completion of mundane household tasks totally relies on her cheerleading, support, and extreme fan dedication.
But "MA-MA" had to be her next order of business, right?
Next came "BA-BA" (bottle) and "NAH-NAH-NAH" (banana).
Soon after— UH-OH, NO-NO and YUM all became part of her repertoire.
Followed by BALL, BOOK, and BYE-BYE.
The other night she said "NIGHT-NIGHT" before she went to bed. And she has begun saying the word "APPLE" so perfectly that I wonder if she is getting diction coaching while everybody else is sleeping. Plus she's been working hard on shoes (SSHHS), duck (UCK) and remote (MO).
Sometimes, I think I have said MA-MA so much, that it doesn't even register. Maybe she equates the word on the same level as the dishwasher running or listening to a white noise machine.
She's now at the point where she has begun to string words together. She'll say "HI BAY-BEE" when she sees herself in the mirror. "I Love You" is "I LA LA". And don't even get me started on "HI DA-DEE!" and "BYE-BYE DA-DEE!" It is heartbreaking.
But she's 13 months now, I tell myself. So she's got to come around soon...
Say MA-MA, I repeat.
Ilana is a NYC based working mom, read more from her on Mommy Shorts.
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