Bingo knows what “daddy” means.
She gleefully points to her friends’ fathers and shouts to them, “Daddy!”
Any guy carrying a kid on his shoulders: “Daddy!”
The stock photography guy on the air conditioner box (lying relaxed and, presumably, cool with his stock photography wife and kid): “Daddy!”
She’s even taken two of her friend’s fathers on as her own. When either of them is around, it isn’t Henry’s daddy or Olivia’s daddy* that we’re talking about: it’s just daddy. “Daddy push swing! Silly daddy!” Inevitably, this has led to uncomfortable public announcements such as, “Daddy at Olivia’s house. Daddy go home. Bye bye daddy!”
I have to admit: the unrestrained** enthusiasm for daddies made me a little nervous when it first came up. “Oh no!”, I thought to myself. “Bingo knows that she doesn’t have a daddy, and wants one! What if she resents us? What if she goes on a desperate and misguided search for father figures later in life? What if the anti-gay conservative populace hears about this?!”
Then I paused (for the split second that parenting allows any pause to last) and remembered to breathe.
Do you know what else Bingo really wants? She wants a dog. She loves Henry’s dogs as much as she loves Henry’s daddy. The highlight of her short life so far has been getting to hold one of those dog’s leashes on a short walk down the street. She waves to every dog on the street. She tells anybody who will listen that Grandma is bringing her a dog for her birthday.
But Grandma is not getting Bingo a dog, unless Grandma wants to be disowned. Our house is a dog-free house, and will likely remain that way. Bingo will grow up with a bunch of cats and whatever creatures might live in our walls, but no other furry friends. And Bingo will be okay.
So, if anybody tells me that Bingo needs a daddy (Bingo included), I’ll explain that all all families are different. That different people and things fit into our hearts and homes: moms, dads, cats, dogs, budgies, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings, friends, entire villages. I’ll explain that not having any of those things doesn’t mean that you’re missing them. And I’ll explain that at the end of the day the only daddy in our house is still going to be the guy on the air conditioning box.
*Not her friends actual names, but the names of pretty much every two year old we meet.
**Really though, what is restrained when it comes to toddler?