Mama no more!

The kid’s linguistic development continues! He recently learned “down,” and right now it’s probably his most commonly used word. (Naturally, he also uses “down” to mean “up.”) He also says “town” almost every time we go out, although what he’s trying to communicate with that sound is a complete mystery. He’s started saying “Bai!” for bye-bye, and responds to several prompts with はい (hai), the all-purpose Japanese word of acknowledgment. He responds to instructions for various tasks such as picking up an object, throwing it away, bringing it to you, etc. When prompted with various animal names in English or Japanese, he can make an appropriate noise: “Woo woo” for dogs, “Möw” for cats, “Ouoooooooo” for wolves, and so on.

As you could probably guess from the title, though, I’m particularly pleased about one recent advance: I am no longer “mama,” but “papa.”

As I mentioned before, he’s had the phonetic capacity to say “papa” for a while now. His mother could even get him to say it just as a sound. We would even occasionally hear him whispering “papa” to himself, as if considering the concept. But there was a span of time in which anyone asking him to call me “papa” would lead to him stubbornly insisting that I was in fact a “mama.” But it wasn’t until last week or so that we had a real breakthrough.

It was while we were brushing our teeth together after dinner. We’ve been standing him on the counter by the bathroom sink so he could see himself and us in the mirror, but that evening he decided that he really would rather be exploring all the stuff on the counter than anything dental-care-related. So I moved him. This made him sad, and so he reached out to me doing the little grabby-hand motion that means he wants to be picked up, and in a plaintive voice he said

“Mama!”

I put on a questioning expression and pointed to his mother. And again he reached out to me and said

“Mama!”

And again I pointed to his actual mama. And again he reached out to me and said

Papa?”

So I picked him up. And there have been a couple of times since when he may have slipped up, or when it was unclear who he was talking to, but ever since I’ve pretty consistently been “papa.” Which is nice!

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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