My son, Caleb, is learning to speak. I am sure that every parent thinks that their child is a baby genius and some get quite insufferable about it, so I promise that I won’t.
This weekend he started saying “mommy” and “daddy”. It was fantastic. There was even the sitcom moment when he pointed at me, shook his head carefully, pointed at the door and said: “mommy? “. He also started laughing his head off when he saw my expression.
On Saturday evening he woke up a few hours after going to sleep and started complaining. I went up to his room to check on him and had just crept in when he called “daddy?” I usually flip him onto his back, because when he wakes up he stands in the cot, and walk out of the room. But he said Daddy! I picked him up and sat down on the chair next to his bed and we chatted about sleep, the quality of the milk these days and just what a debacle the Oscar Pistorius trial is. He fell asleep quickly.
I have read, not that I can find a reference even with the mighty Google, that some ancient civilizations did not consider a child to be human until the child could speak. I will admit to having been frustrated with Caleb in the last few weeks. I can see, in his expression and way that he reacts, that he understands what I am telling him but he can’t tell me what he is thinking. This has led to some epic tantrums. Caleb has also got quite upset.
Last night, well after midnight, he woke up. Usually, if he wakes up in the night, he will cry a bit and roll around in his cot until he settles down and goes back to sleep. There is no need to go and check on him. That was before he started yelling daddy! I heard his first cry, like a question: “daddy?“ Then the next a bit louder, an exclamation, and finally there was no option but to go and check.
I usually do the dad stuff with a mix of dutifulness and apprehension. I get a lot of it wrong but I like to believe that I learn quickly and try not to repeat any of the mistakes that I have made. I am sure that Caleb will figure out how to manipulate his mom and I into getting his way and this is only the beginning. As I walked back to bed, tripping over one of our dogs and putting my foot into his water bowl, I saw my parents in a different light. Perhaps this is one of the lessons of becoming a parent? You are able to identify with your own parents on a level that you had previously not understood.
I lay in bed, basking in the euphoria of being needed by this little person and knowing just how implicitly he trusted me. He knew that I would come if he called out to me. Caleb doesn’t understand “disappointed” or “compromise” or “priority”. I would love to wrap him in cotton wool and keep it that way. I write this down so that I can remember the feeling. So that in a few years when a meeting runs over or I am stuck at an airport in Timbuktu I can remind myself that it isn’t difficult to be somebody’s hero.